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Cultural Landscape Report 

Site History and Evaluation 

1791-1994 



<£ President's Park 




8 13 , 


Cultural Landscape Report 
Site History and Evaluation 
1791-1994 

imr 

& President's Park 

Washington , D.C. 


By 

Dr. Susan Calafate Boyle 

With Assistance from 
Mr. David Krause 


Based on Research by 
PD AW, Inc. 

Land and Community Associates 
Cynthia Zaitzevsky <$ Associates 
John Milner Associates 


December 2001 


United States Department of the Interior • National Park Service 




Cultural Landscape Report for the White House and President's Park 

National Park Service 
U.S. Department of the Interior 


I. We have identified the following new information, or correction, for the 

Cultural Landscape Report for the White House and President's Park, dated 
December 2001: 


II. Please provide the following information for follow-up questions: 

Your Name: 

Title: 

Organization: 

Address: 

Telephone Number: 

Email Address: 


III. This completed form should be mailed or faxed to: 

National Park Service Liaison to the White House 

National Capital Region 

National Park Service 

1100 Ohio Drive, S.W., Room 344 

Washington, D.C. 20242 


Fax: (202)619-6353 
Office: (202)619-6344 


Thank you 




Cultural Landscape Report for the White House and President’s Park 

National Park Service 
U.S. Department of the Interior 


L We have identified the following new information, or correction, for the 

Cultural Landscape Report for the White House and President’s Park, dated 
December 2001: 


II. Please provide the following information for follow-up questions: 

Your Name: 

Title: 

Organization: 

Address: 

Telephone Number: 

Email Address: 


HI. This completed form should be mailed or faxed to: 

National Park Service Liaison to the White House 

•National Capital Region 

National Park Service 

1100 Ohio Drive, S.W., Room 344 

Washington, D.C. 20242 

Fax: (202)619-6353 
Office: (202)619-6344 


Thank you 




Contents 



Introduction — 1 
The Setting — 2 

Geographic and Urban Context — 3 
Study Methodology — 4 
Context of this Report — 6 


Part I: The Evolution of President's Park — 11 


Chapter 1. The L'Enfant Plan and the Beginning of President's Park: 1 791-1814 — 13 
Location of the Capital and President's Park — 14 
The Grounds of the White House — 20 
Lafayette Square — 28 
President's Park South — 29 


The Grounds of the Treasury Building and the War Building 

Summary — 31 


Chapter 2. The Shaping of President's Park: 1815-1850 — 43 
The Grounds of the White House — 44 
Lafayette Square — 58 
President's Park South — 61 
The Grounds of the State and Treasury Buildings — 63 
The Grounds of the War and Navy Buildings — 64 
Summary — 65 


Chapter 3. President's Park and the Influence of the Downing Plan: 1851-1865 — 77 

The Downing Plan — 78 
The Grounds of the White House — 86 
Lafayette Square — 94 
President’s Park South — 98 
The Grounds of the Treasury and State Buildings — 103 
The Grounds of the War and Navy Buildings — 104 
Summary — 104 


Chapter 4. President's Park and the Army Corps of Engineers: 1865-1 901 — 121 
The Grounds of the White House — 123 
Lafayette Square — 140 
President's Park South — 146 


The Grounds of the Treasury Building — 154 


m 

Contents 


The Grounds of the State, War, and Navy Building — 156 
Summary — 157 

Chapter 5. President's Park and the Influence of the McMillan Plan: 1901-1929 — 175 

The McMillan Plan — 177 
The Grounds of the White House — 185 
Lafayette Square — 200 
President's Park South — 204 
The Grounds of the Treasury Building — 210 
The Grounds of the State, War, and Navy Building — 211 
Summary' — 212 

Chapter 6. The Olmsted Plan and Its Influence on President’s Park: 1 929-1948 — 239 

The Grounds of the White House — 241 
The Olmsted Plan — 244 
Lafayette Park — 264 
President's Park South — 266 
The Grounds of the Treasury Building — 271 
The Grounds of the State, War, and Navy Building — 272 
Summary — 272 

Chapter 7. President’s Park and the Influence of the Wamecke Plan: 1948-1969 — 297 

The Grounds of the White House — 299 
Lafayette Park — 307 
President’s Park South — 312 
The Grounds of the Treasury Building — 314 
The Grounds of the Old Executive Office Building — 314 
Summary — 315 

Chapter 8. Maintaining and Refining President's Park: 1969-1 994 — 335 
The Grounds of the White House — 336 
Lafayette Park — 347 
President's Park South — 348 
The Grounds of the Treasury Building — 351 
The Grounds of the Old Executive Office Building — 25 1 
Summary — 352 

Part 11: Existing Conditions — 361 

Chapter 9. The White House and President's Park Today — 363 
The Grounds of the White House — 363 
The Grounds of the Treasury Building — 374 
The Grounds of the Old Executive Office Building — 377 
East Executive Park — 380 
West Executive Avenue — 383 


iv 

Contents 


Lafayette Park — 384 
President's Park South — 390 

Part III: Significance and Integrity — 46 1 

Chapter 10. Evaluation of Significance — 463 
Criterion A: Event — 464 
Criterion B: Persons — 466 
Criterion C: Design/Construction — 467 
Summary — 476 

Chapter 11. Evaluation of Integrity — 487 
Evaluation of Integrity — 490 
Summary — 501 

Chapter 12. Conclusions and Recommendations — 503 
Conclusions — 50.3 
Recommendations — 504 

Bibliography — 509 


Index — 525 



Illustrations 


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Figure 3-8: 


Local Context — The White House and President's Park — 9 
Study Area — The White House and President's Park — 10 

Sketch of Washington in Embryo, Viz.: Previous to the Survey by Major L’ Enfant — 33 

Plan of the City Intended for the Permanent Seat of the Government of the United States. Copy 

by the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey in 1887 of the manuscript plan for 

Washington, D.C., drawn by Pierre Charles L'Enfant, 1 791 — 34 

Plan of the City of Washington in the Territory of Columbia. Andrew Ellicott. Engraved by 

James Thackara and John Vallance, Philadelphia, 1792 — 35 

Detail ofEllicott's Plan Showing the President's House. From Plan of the City of Washington in 
the Territory of Columbia. Andrew Ellicott. Engraved by Thackara and Vallance, 
Philadelphia, 1792 — 36 

White House, 1 799. After a Sketch by N. King — 37 

Sketch Plan for Improving the Grounds. Attributed to Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Latrobe, 
Robert Mills, n.d. (ca. 1802-1805?) — 38 

The President's House in the City of Washington. Attributed to Benjamin Latrobe 
(watercolor), September 1811 — 39 

Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington et La Porte du Jardin du President (Pennsylvania Avenue 
and the Gate of President's Garden). Baroness Hyde de Neuville (drawing), 1821 — 40 
Palace of the President. George Heriot (sketch), July 1815 — 41 

Map of the Proposed Washington Canal and Locks. Benjamin Henry Latrobe, 1804 — 42 

Washington City. Baroness Hyde de Neuville (watercolor), June 1821 — 67 

View of the President's House from the Southwest. Anthony St. John Baker (watercolor), 

1826 — 68 

The President's House. Joseph Andrews after H. Brown (engraving), ca. 1827-33 — 69 
View from the Southwest of the President's House. John Plumbe (daguerreotype), 1846 — 70 
The President's House. Augustus Kollner (lithograph), 1848 — 71 

St. John’s [Church] and the Neighboring White House. Benjamin Henry Latrobe (watercolor, 
ink, and pencil on paper), 181 6 — 72 

Maison du Commodore Stephen Decatur ( House of Commodore Decatur). Madame E. Vaile 
(painting), 1822 — 73 

Isometric View of the President's House, the Surrounding Public Buildings and Private 
Residences. Lithograph, ca. 1845-1850 — 74 
U. S. Treasury. Lithograph, ca. 1861-1867 — 75 

Plan Showing Proposed Method of Laying Out the Public Grounds at Washington, D.C. Andrew 
Jackson Downing, 1851 — 107 

Detail of Plan Showing Proposed Method of Laying Out the Public Grounds at Washington, D.C. 
Andrew Jackson Downing, 1851 — 108 

Detail of Map of the City of Washington, D.C. James Keily. Published by Lloyd Van Derveer, 
Camden, New Jersey, 1851 — 109 

The White House from the Southwest. B. B. French (photograph), 1857 — 110 
North Front of the White House. Photograph, pre-1 85 7 — 111 

North Front of the President's House with the Jefferson Statue in the Foreground. Photograph, 
ca. 1857— 112 

South Grounds of the President's House with the Jefferson Wall. Attributed to Matthew Brady 
(photograph), ca. 1861 — 113 

Map of the District of Columbia, Surveyed in the Years 1856, 1857, 1858 & 1859. A. Boschke. 
Published by D. McClelland, Blanchard and Mohun, Washington, D.C., 1861 — 114 


VT 

Contents 



Figure 3-9: 

Figure 3-10: 
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Figure 5-10 
Figure 5-1 1 
Figure 5-12 
Figure 5-13 
Figure 5-14 
Figure 5-15 


The Stable of the White blouse. From a photograph by L. E. Walker, Harper's Weekly, 

April 17, 1869 — 115 

South Front of the White House with Fountain. Print, ca. 1861-69 — 116 
Clay Battalion in Front of the South Portico of the White House. Photograph, 1861 — 117 
View of the White House from the Southeast. Matthew Brady (photograph), 1862 — 118 
Mills's Colossal Equestrian Statue of General Andrew Jackson. Casimir Boehn, ca. 1853. 
Lithograph by Thomas Sinclair, 1858 — 119 

Old War Building and Old Navy Building. Photograph, pre-1870 — 120 

East Front of the White House from the Treasury Building. Stereograph, ca. 1870 — 159 

Plan of the Front Part of the White House Grounds. John Stewart, 1873 — 160 

The White House from the South. Frances Benjamin Johnston (photograph), 

ca. 1890— 161 

Egg Rolling, Easter Monday. Frances Benjamin Johnston (photograph), 1898 — 162 
White House Greenhouses from the West. Corps of Engineers, Annual Report (photograph), 

1900— 163 

North Front of the White House with Plantings. Corps of Engineers, Annual Report 
(photograph), 1900 — 164 

Plan of Lafayette Square. J. Stewart, 1881. Updated to ca. 1915 — 165 

Plan for the President's Park , Excluding Lafayette Park. Office of the Chief of Engineers, 

1877— 166 

The Ellipse under Construction. Photograph, ca. 1880 — 167 

The Ellipse. Underwood and Underwood (stereograph), ca. 1898 — 168 

West View of the Treasury. Mrs. M. L. Schreiner (drawing), October 1867 — 169 

North Front Entrance Court of the Treasury Building (showing fountain at the Inaugural Ball of 

Ulysses S. Grant). Wood engraving, March 1873 — 170 

Formal Garden in North Treasury Plaza. Photograph, 1901 — 171 

Washington City, D.C. Theodore Davis (sketch). Harper's Weekly, March 13, 1869 — 1 72 
The State, War, and Navy Building, 1873 (southwest view). Henry Lovie, 1873 — 173 
Washington, D.C., Diagram of a Portion of City Showing Proposed Sites for Future Public 
Buildings. Senate of the United States — Committee on the District of Columbia Report, 

1901— 215 

General Plan of the President's House and Garden. Charles Follen McKim, William 
Rutherford Mead, and Alexander White — Olmsted Brothers, 1903 — 216 
The White House, Sketch Showing Proposed Improvements on North Side. Olmsted Brothers, 
February 1903 — 217 

West Elevation of the White House with the Roof of the Executive Office (West Wing) and Rose 
Garden in the Foreground. Photograph, ca. 1903 — 218 
East Colonial Garden. Photograph, 1904 — 219 
West Colonial Garden. Photograph, 1904 — 220 

View of Tennis Court on the South Grounds. Photograph, post-1909 — 221 
East Garden, The White House, Washington, D.C. Beatrix Farrand, 1914 — 222 
East Garden. Photograph, ca. 1916 — 223 

West Garden. Frances Benjamin Johnston (photograph), ca. 1921 (maybe earlier) — 224 

West Garden (detail). Frances Benjamin Johnston (photograph), ca. 1921 — 225 

Sheep on the South Lawn. Photograph, ca. 191 7-1 8 — 226 

Plan of Lafayette Park. Corps of Engineers, Annual Report, 1905 — 227 

Lafayette Square, Washington, D.C. Archibald A. Hill (photograph), June 1906 — 228 

New Park Lodge, Lafayette Park. Corps of Engineers, Annual Report (photograph), 

1914 — 229 


Vll 

Contents 



Figure 5-16: 

Figure 5-17: 

Figure 5-18: 

Figure 5-19: 

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Figure 6-17: 
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Figure 6-19: 
Figure 6-20: 

Figure 6-21: 
Figure 7-1: 


Sherman Plaza Showing Landscape Gardening Treatment (view from Treasury steps, looking 
south). Corps of Engineers, Annual Report (photograph), 1905 — 230 
Sherman Statue, Existing Walks and Trees. Office of Public Buildings and Grounds, Corps of 
Engineers, September 1919 — 231 

Grounds South of the Executive Mansion. Office of Public Buildings and Grounds, Corps of 
Engineers, October 1919 — 232 

Plan ofU.S. Treasury Building and Approaches Showing Proposed Plantings. George Burnap, 
1924 — 233 

Stands along the North Side of the Treasury for the Woodrow Wilson Inaugural Parade. 
Photograph, 1913 — 234 

Removal of Old Iron Fence, South Grounds of the Treasury Building. Photograph, The Star, 
May 20, 1923 — 235 

South Facade of the State, War, and Navy Building with Pauline, the Cow. Photograph, ca. 
1909-13 — 236 

Detail of State, War, and Navy Building with MacArthur's Planters. Photograph, 

1964 — 237 

First Lady Lou Hoover Planting a Cedar from Ferry Farm, Boyhood Home of George Washington. 
Photograph, March 1932 — 275 

Expanded West Wing of the White House. Photograph, 1935 — 276 

Executive Mansion Grounds, Washington D.C.: General Survey Showing Existing Conditions as 

of January 1, 1935. Olmsted Brothers, March 1935 — 277 

East Entrance. Clarence Howard (photograph), November 1934 — 278 

East Garden. Frederick L. Olmsted Jr. (photograph), July 1935 — 279 

Executive Mansion Grounds: Proposed Improvements about Executive Mansion. Olmsted 

Brothers, October 1935 — 280 

Executive Mansion Grounds, Washington, D.C., General Plan for Improvements. Olmsted 
Brothers, October 1935 — 281 

View from South Lawn below Fountain (current condition). Frederick L. Olmsted Jr. 
(photograph), October 1935 — 282 

Axial View of the White House from Street, Looking North. Proposed Condition. Olmsted 
Brothers, October 1935 — 283 

From North Curb of Ellipse on South Axis. Frederick L. Olmsted Jr. (photograph), October 
1937 — 284 

White House from the Southeast. Photograph, spring 1939 — 285 
White House from the South. Photograph, spring 1939 — 286 

Plan for the Location of Roosevelt Tulip Tree Groves on the South Grounds. National Park 
Service, December 12, 1934 — 287 

Aerial Photograph of the White House and South Grounds. Abbie Rowe (photograph), 

January 1 948 — 288 

Trees and Shrubs of Lafayette Park, Washington, D.C., 1932. Plan — 289 

Aiontage of Five Photographs of Lafayette Park. From Trees and Shrubs of Lafayette Park, 

Washington, D.C., 1932. — 290 

Trees and Shrubs of Lafayette Square. National Park Service (plan), January 1936 — 291 
Special Troops Barracks Layout Plan. U.S. Engineer Office, ca. 1942 — 292 
Aerial View of the Ellipse and White House Grounds. Photograph, ca. 1948-54 — 293 
Existing Trees Encroaching on White House - Jefferson Memorial Vista. S. E. Sanders and 
Lorenzo Winslow, 1 944 — 294 

Aerial View of the State, War, and Navy Building. A. W. Stevens (photograph), 1931 — 295 
The White House and Grounds from the Washington Monument. Abbie Rowe (photograph), 
ca. 1952 — 317 


vm 

CONTENTS 




Figure 7-2: 

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Exhibit 9-1 : 
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Figure 9-9: 
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Figure 9-11: 


Figure 9-12 
Figure 9-13 
Figure 9-14 
Figure 9-15 
Figure 9-16 


Linden (Tilia cordata) Planted by Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Abbie Rowe (photograph), ca. 
1952 — 318 

Moving a Magnolia grandiflora. Abbie Rowe (photograph), ca. 1952 — 319 
Delivery of Boxwood. Abbie Rowe (photograph), ca. 1952 — 320 

Slope North of the East Terrace Showing Azaleas. Abbie Rowe (photograph), ca. 1 952 — 321 
South Portico and Site of East Garden. Abbie Rowe (photograph), 1952 — 322 
East Garden with Dutch Tulips and Azaleas in Bloom. Photograph, 1952 — 323 
Diagrammatic Plan of the Rose Varieties, the West Garden; Azalea Planting at Bank North of 
the East Wing Connection. National Park Service, 1952 — 324 

The White House and Grounds from the Washington Monument. Abbie Rowe (photograph), 
ca. 1952 — 325 

Putting Green, Upper South Lawn, White House Grounds. Abbie Rowe (photograph), 
ca. 1955 — 326 

President Kennedy Addressing the National Council of the League of Women Voters in the Rose 
Garden. Abbie Rowe (photograph), May 1963 — 327 

Plan for Pennsylvania Avenue and Vicinity. President's Council on Pennsylvania Avenue, 

1964 — 328 

Dedication of the Jacqueline Kennedy Garden. Photograph, April 1965 — 329 
Pennsylvania Avenue Guard Shelter. Macomber and Peter, Architects (perspective design), 
1962-63 — 330 

Reconstruction of Fence and Sidewalk, Pennsylvania Avenue. Abbie Rowe (photograph), 

1965 — 331 

Children’s Garden at the White House. Edward Durell Stone Jr., 1969 — 332 
Development Plan of Lafayette Square. John Warnecke & Associates, 1 962 — 333 
White House Garden Tour Visitors Walking along the South Driveway near the West Wing. 
Photograph, 1973 — 355 

Construction of Swimming Pool. Photograph, June 1975 — 356 
White House Swimming Pool. Erik Kvalsvik (photograph), 1996 — 35 7 
Horseshoe Pit Built for President George H. W. Bush. Photograph, 1 989 — 358 
President and Mrs. Clinton Planting a Willow Oak. Photograph, 1993 — 359 
Ellipse Visitor Pavilion. Digital image, 1999 — 360 

The Grounds of the White House — Existing Conditions Features, 1 994 — 403 

President's Park — Existing Conditions Features, 1 994 — 407 

The North Facade of the White House — 409 

The White House North Fountain — 410 

Guardhouse Northeast of the White House — 411 

The North Lawn (looking southwest) — 412 

Bacon-Style Lamppost — 413 

Millet-Style Lamppost (Washington, D.C., Globe) — 414 

The Columbian Family Lamppost — 415 

View from North Portico to Lafayette Park — 416 

Fountain in the Lower South Lawn — 417 

Detail of the Eisenhower Pin Oak Commemorative Marker — 418 

The East Garden (known as the Jacqueline Kennedy Garden) Looking West toward the 

Pergola — 419 

The West Garden (known as the Rose Garden) — 420 

The President's Patio — 421 

The Lower South Lawn — 422 

Tourists along South Executive Avenue — 423 

The White House South Fountain (looking southeast) — 424 


IX 

Contents 



Figure 9-17: 
Figure 9-18: 
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Figure 9-51 : 
Figure 9-52: 
Figure 10-1: 
Figure 10-2: 
Figure 10-3: 
Figure 10-4: 

Figure 10-5: 
Figure 10-6: 
Figure 10-7: 


Bronze Plaques in the White House Children’s Garden — 425 

Evergreens in Wooden Planters along the White House Transverse Road — 426 

The White House Maintenance Facility and the Adjacent Basketball Half-court — 427 

The West Facade of the Treasury Building (seen from the East Wing) — 428 

Statue of Albert Gallatin on the North Terrace of the Treasury Building — 429 

Statue of Alexander Hamilton on the South Terrace of the Treasury Building — 430 

The Old Executive Office Building along 1 7th Street — 431 

Granite Pier and Iron Fencing at the Old Executive Office Building ( northeast corner) — 432 

Urn at North Terrace of the Old Executive Office Building — 433 

East Executive Park ( looking north) — 434 

East Fountain and Entrance to the East Wing — 435 

Visitor Entrance Building — 436 

West Executive Avenue (looking north) — 437 

Demonstrators along Pennsylvania Avenue (Lafayette Park on the right; the White House 
on the left) — 438 

The Andrew Jackson Statue and Cannon — 439 
The Lafayette Statue — 440 
The Rochambe.au Statue — 441 
The vort Steuben Statue — 442 
The Kosciuszko Statue — 443 

The Navy Yard Urn, Lafayette Park (east side) — 444 

The Bernard Baruch Bench of Inspiration and Commemorative Plaque — 445 

The Lodge in Lafayette Park — 446 

Saratoga-Style Lamppost — 447 

The Ellipse — 448 

Vendors along 15th Street — 449 

The National Christmas Tree — 450 

The Second Division Memorial — 451 

The Boy Scout Memorial — 452 

The Butt-Millet Memorial Fountain • — 453 

The West Haupt Fountain — 454 

The Zero Milestone and Historic American Engineering Survey Marker — 455 

DAR Memorial to the Settlers of the District of Columbia (District Patentees Memorial) — 456 

The West Bulfinch Gatehouse along 1 7th Street — 457 

The Ellipse Visitor Pavilion — 458 

Sherman Plaza — 459 

The First Division Monument — 460 

Schematic Diagram of the Royal Axis of Paris — 479 

Nancy, Place Stanislaus and Place de la Carriere — 480 

Plan for Rebuilding London after the Fire of 1666. Christopher Wren, 1666 — 481 
Prospect of the Royal Hospital at Greenwich to the River Thames. Christopher Wren, 

1699 — 482 

Schematic Diagram of London — 483 
Schematic Diagram of St. Petersburg — 484 

Plan de la ville et maisons de Williamsburg, Virginia (Plan of the town and houses of 
Williamsburg, Virginia). 1786 — 485 


X 

Contents 



Foreword 


T he Office of the Chief Usher of the White 1 louse and the 
Office of White House Liaison for the National Park Service 
currently share responsibility for managing the landscape 
of the White House and President's Park. Caring for this 
complex landscape presents significant challenges. Historical integ- 
rity, multiple public uses, legal and security constraints, horti- 
cultural excellence, and many other factors apply to this special 
place. Landscape management requires flexibility and awareness of 
the historic character of the land and its features and their evolution 
through time. 

This document is a tool to assist both offices in making appropriate 
management decisions. It includes most of the information currently 
available on the history of the landscape, analyzes it, and interprets it 
within a broad historical context. It aims to be as definitive a study 
as possible given that new information on a site with such a long 
and complex history appears regularly. 

Questions are continually being raised about a broad range of issues 
regarding this landscape. Managers need guidance to answer such 
questions, but more importantly to adopt strategies that allow for 
the preservation of significant landscape features while at the same 
time providing for the safety and privacy of the occupants of the 
White House. 


— Gary Walters, Chief Usher, The White House 

— James 1. McDaniel, Director, White House Liaison, 

National Park Service 




Preface 


S tudying the landscape of a site as complex as the White 
House and President's Park is a major challenge. After more 
than two centuries of association with individuals and 
developments critical to our nation’s history, it has become a 
symbol of the presidency and of the United States. Its strong 
connection with leading political figures and influential landscape 
designers and architects intensifies the challenge. 

Understanding the evolution of this complex landscape in order to 
reach conclusions is an overwhelming task. At times the researcher 
almost inadvertently begins to link the activities on the grounds to 
the policies and personalities of the occupants of the White House, a 
dangerous exercise considering that relatively few presidents clearly 
articulated their ideas about desirable designs for the grounds. 
Unclear or incomplete documentation affects any attempt to provide 
a definitive history of the site, hindering the clarification of certain 
issues, leaving many questions unanswered, and leading to mistakes. 

Providing accurate information is essential in establishing credibility, 
but we need to acknowledge that the search for absolute historical 
accuracy and completeness never ends. Small factual mistakes are 
almost unavoidable in any historical research project and are rela- 
tively easy to correct. We will always find additional materials that 
shed new light on developments that we thought we had understood 
perfectly. The historian's crucial task is not to clarify every small 
detail, but to analyze the available information and to interpret it 
within a broad historical context. 

Interpretation is always evolving, as a reflection of the perspective 
and the tastes of new generations. There will never be a definitive 
interpretation on the history of the landscape of the White House 
and President's Park. Each generation will rewrite the history of the 
site because each generation has a different perspective on the past 
and perceives different lessons to be learned. When Andrew Jackson 
Downing developed new designs for President's Park and Washing- 
ton, D.C., in the mid 19th century, he departed from Pierre 
L'Enfant's vision, which was not highly regarded. However, with 
time the value of L'Enfant's plan has been reassessed and now 
provides the guiding principles for the management of the site. 



Conversely Downing's design ideas, quite popular at the time of their 
development, have lost their appeal and no longer appear suitable. 

The most important lesson from studying the history of this site is 
that it reveals as much about the world in which we live as the past 
that we are trying to elucidate. 



Acknowledgments 


T his has been a challenging project, and I am heavily indebted 
to those who have supported me for more than two and a 
half years. Familiarity with the site is crucial for students of 
landscapes, and in my case this was made possible by Chief 
Usher Gary Walters and Superintendent of Grounds Irvin Williams, 
who facilitated my exploration of the White House grounds and 
answered many questions. Dale Haney led me on tours of the 
grounds and offered valuable insights. 

White House Curator Betty Monkman met to discuss the project and 
provided excellent review comments. Her staff furnished photo- 
graphic materials that enhanced the document. James I. McDaniel, 
National Park Service director for White House Liaison, provided 
continuous support during the entire project and made his personnel 
available to assist with research, site visits, and reviews. 

Dr. Cynthia Zaitzevsky and EDAW, Inc., are the authors of the draft 
document, which provides the basis for this report. William Seale 
graciously received me at his house and presented suggestions and 
words of encouragement. Dr. Patrick O'Brien made important and 
valuable comments during the various stages of this project. Sue 
Kohler from the Commission of Fine Arts provided crucial details on 
the lighting system. The reviews by Maureen Joseph and Darwina 
Neal corrected inaccuracies and clarified questions, as did the staff of 
President's Park. Tom Peyton, former superintendent of President's 
Park, allowed his staff to guide me on a visit to the various monu- 
ments and memorials. The suggestions and information provided by 
Helen Matthews and Wayne Amos clarified horticultural issues. 
Helen led me on tours of the grounds outside the fence and provided 
valuable insights a number of topics. Thanks also go to Jim Doherty 
for answering questions about Sherman Plaza. Alicia Overby de- 
serves my gratitude for her ability to promptly uncover and remit a 
substantial number of photographs. Shelly McKenzie assisted in 
gathering pertinent documentation for the historic images. Special 
appreciation goes to Linda Ray for doing such a great job with the 
preparation of the graphic materials — essential elements of any 
landscape study, and to Greg Sorensen for his patience and for the 
monumental task of editing this volume. 



Most of the new information included in this draft is the result of the 
efforts of David Krause, the archivist at White House Liaison. For 
over two years David generously provided new data, his expertise, 
and never ending review comments that have greatly enhanced the 
quality of this manuscript. A special thanks also goes to Rick Napoli 
for his collaboration and for allowing David Krause to spend many 
hours answering my questions. 

Finally my greatest appreciation goes to Ann Bowman Smith and 
Betty Janes, who had confidence in me and who continually pro- 
vided words of support and encouragement- This project could not 
have been completed without their help. 


— Susan Calapate Boyle 


xvi 

Acknowledgments 



Introduction 


P resident's Park is a complex and constantly evolving land- 
scape. The images of the north and the south grounds of the 
White House, with their immaculate lawns and flower 
displays, stand as symbols of the presidency and the United 
States. The multiple uses of President's Park add to the significance 
and complexity of this unique site. President's Park is the nation's 
most widely recognized ceremonial landscape, where events of 
national and international importance take place almost on a daily 
basis. The White House is the public office of the executive branch of 
the U.S. government. It also serves as the private living quarters of 
the president and his family. Certain elements of the landscape of 
President's Park reflect the work of talented landscape architects and 
designers. Some features were developed to meet the needs and 
interests of the occupants of the White House; others are indicative 
of the necessity to provide safety and privacy to the president 
without isolating him from the American people. 

In addition to the White House and its grounds, as of 1994 
President's Park also included the Treasury Building, the Old Execu- 
tive Office Building (formerly the State, War, and Navy Building, 
now known as the Dwight D. Eisenhower Executive Office Building), 
Lafayette Park, and President’s Park South (including the Ellipse, 
Sherman Plaza, and the First Division Monument). Treatment of this 
complex as a single landscape makes sense for several physical and 
historical reasons. First, Pierre L'Enfant’s plan presented the entire 
site as President's Park. Although the specific landscape features were 
not delineated, the design included an area that roughly corresponds 
to the size and location of President's Park today. Second, these five 
distinct units are physically very close, and what occurs in one area 
visually affects the others. For example, development on the Ellipse 
could adversely impact the open vistas to and from the White House. 
Third, although individual landscapes did not evolve concurrently, 
their history is closely intertwined. For example, Jefferson proposed 
the construction of terraces to connect the President's House with the 
executive office buddings on either side. The construction and 
completion of the Treasury Building required the removal of the 
existing stables at the White House. The construction of East and 
West Executive Avenues and the excavation for the massive State, 



The Setting War, and Navy Building, which began in 1871, provided needed fill 

for the grounds of the Ellipse. 

The White House is undoubtedly the focal point of this landscape 
complex, and understandably it attracts most of the attention. 
However, what enhances President's Park is the intricate relationship 
among the five units. Similarities and contrasts add interest and 
flavor to the site. For example, the romantic Lafayette Park differs 
dramatically from the massive and stark Old Executive Office Build- 
ing and the Treasury Building. The curvilinear elements of the 
Lafayette Park path system are replicated in the circulation system 
for most of the site — the north entry drive, the transverse road and 
circular roads in the upper south lawn. South Executive Avenue, the 
Ellipse road, and the path systems east and west of the Ellipse. The 
fountains in the north lawn and the lower south lawn contribute to 
this curvilinear effect, which is enhanced by the artful plantings 
surrounding them. This prevailing curvilinear motif provides a sharp 
contrast to the rigid formality and rectilinear shapes of the main 
buildings, from the White House itself to the Treasury Building and 
the Old Executive Office Building, and even to the Bulfinch 
gatehouses. 

Large expanses of open space visually distinguish President's Park. Its 
verdant lawns, large canopied trees, manicured plantings, and 
curvilinear walks and drives differ markedly from the adjacent, 
urban grid of paved streets, sidewalks, and tightly arranged build- 
ings. Walls, fences, gates, and staffed guardhouses physically and 
visually separate the White House and its grounds from its neigh- 
borhood, and also limit access to the Treasury, the Old Executive 
Office Building, East Executive Park, and West Executive Avenue. 
Public open spaces abutting the White House grounds on the north 
and south expand its parklike setting. Lafayette Park, to the north, is 
an urban park with curvilinear walks, a variety of canopy and orna- 
mental trees in informal arrangements, seasonal planting beds, and 
prominent monuments and memorials. The Ellipse, to the south, 
consists of a broad open lawn surrounded by an elliptical walk and 
drive, combining recreational open space with a number of monu- 
ments and memorials. 


The Setting 

President's Park is approximately 82.22 acres. The site comprises all 
of the land originally reserved for the development of the White 
House, as depicted in Pierre L'Enfant's 1791 plan. Set within a 
densely developed cityscape. President's Park contains public and 


2 

INTRODUCTION 



Geographic and Urban Context 


private open spaces, limited-access governmental office buildings and 
roads, public streets and sidewalks, and the White House grounds — 
an enclave that includes the official residence and offices of the 
president, as well as private living quarters. President's Park gener- 
ally slopes from north to south and is bounded by city streets, 
sidewalks, and urban streetscapes to the west, north, and east, and 
by the Washington Monument grounds to the south. 


Geographic and Urban Context 

President's Park is located in downtown Washington, D.C., in the 
city's northwest quadrant. The rectangular park is oriented in a 
north-south direction and is aligned with the prevailing grid of the 
city (figure 1-1). It is bounded by H Street to the north, 15th Street to 
the east, 17th Street to the west, and Constitution Avenue to the 
south (figure 1-2). President's Park abuts the National Mall 
approximately at its center and is linked visually with the Jefferson 
Memorial, the Washington Monument, and the United States 
Capitol. It is part of a system of parks, gardens, and historic sites 
administered and maintained by the National Park Service through 
its National Capital Region. 

The landscape of President's Park and its environs reflects the pres- 
sures of urban density and growth in the nation's capital. 
Historically, the Potomac River extended as far east as the present- 
day intersection of 1 7th Street and Constitution Avenue. Tiber Creek, 
a perennial creek flowing from northeast to southwest through 
much of the present downtown area, emptied into the Potomac at 
this point. With the growth and development of the city, portions of 
the river and adjacent tidal flats were filled to create parts of the 
Ellipse, the Washington Monument grounds, and East and West 
Potomac Parks. Tiber Creek still runs beneath Constitution Avenue, 
but it has been incorporated into the city's stormwater sewer 
system. Vegetation and landforms have also been manipulated to 
establish and define an appropriate setting for the executive branch 
of government within the urban environment of Washington, D.C. 
Plantings have been selected for aesthetics, climate control, and 
privacy, and landforms have been altered to create building sites, 
street alignments, and parklike settings. 

Sections of President's Park and adjacent areas are included in several 
historic districts designated by the District of Columbia or listed on 
the National Register of Historic Places. Lafayette Park and adjacent 
buildings are a national historic landmark. The rest of President's 
Park is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Much of the 


3 

Introduction 



Study Methodology' 


area comprising President's Park has also been designated as historic 
parkland by the Historic Preservation Division of the D.C. Depart- 
ment of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, and it is listed on the D.C. 
Inventory of Historic Sites. Some of the best known historic 
landmarks and open spaces in Washington, D.C., are adjacent to 
President's Park and contribute to its setting. The Washington 
Monument, the Jefferson Memorial, the Corcoran Gallery, the 
Daughters of the American Revolution Memorial Continental Hall, 
the Capitol, the Chamber of Commerce Building, East and West 
Potomac Parks, and the Mall border upon or are within view of 
President's Park. 


Study Methodology 

Research for this project began in 1993 and resulted in a draft docu- 
ment prepared in 1995.’ The current report, largely based on the 
information included in the 1995 document, is divided into three 
main parts. The first part (chapters 1 through 8) is a history of the 
evolution of the site; the second part (chapter 9) describes existing 
conditions as of 1994; and the third part (chapters 10 and 11) 
evaluates the significance and the integrity of President's Park, using 
the criteria for the National Register of Historic Places. The document 
concludes with a brief summary of findings and recommendations 
for further study in chapter 12. 

Soon after the author started to work on this study, a decision was 
made to concentrate on the accuracy of the information presented 
and to omit an analysis and evaluation of contributing features. This 
made sense given time and financial constraints. However, it is 
important to note that a systematic analysis of individual landscape 
characteristics (such as views and vistas, spatial organization, circu- 
lation, use, vegetation, and cluster arrangements) and an evaluation 
of their evolution over time would greatly enhance the quality and 
value of the present document. 

The landscape of President's Park is extremely complex. The site's ex- 
tensive history, its association with all the American presidents and 
their families (as well as with many leading designers and architects), 
its symbolism, and its evolving character require familiarity with 


1. EDAW, Inc., Land and Community Associates, Cynthia Zaitzevsky & Associates, 
John Milner Associates, "President's Park Cultural Landscape Report: Site History, 
Existing Conditions, Analysis and Evaluation" (May 1995), on file at White House 
Liaison, National Park Service. 


4 

Introduction 


Study Methodology 


large numbers of written records and visual materials, such as draw- 
ings, sketches, photographs, and plans. Most of the pertinent official 
records, such as the annual reports of the commissioner of public 
buildings and the chief of engineers, were examined in preparing this 
document. However, it has not been possible to conduct the massive 
additional research of other official sources, published documents, 
and private collections that might contain relevant information. 

Difficulties associated with historic research have affected this 
project. The annual reports of the commissioner of public buildings 
are the most important source for the evolution of the grounds. 
However, the format of these reports changed periodically, and cer- 
tain topics were not consistently addressed. Sometimes the informa- 
tion in one year's report contradicts previous ones. In some cases 
crucial documents have been lost or are not available; others contain 
incorrect information, or are not accurately labeled or dated. Perti- 
nent data related to this site is being discovered on a regular basis, 
and it is likely that this will continue. The integration of this new 
information into this report has not been possible at this time. A 
strategy will have to be developed to allow for the inclusion of newly 
uncovered records in future updates of this document. 

Part 1 of this document — the evolution of the site — has a dual 
objective. First, it provides a general interpretation of the evolution of 
the landscape of the White House and President's Park. Second, it 
presents extensive details that current managers can consider when 
questions arise. This is the first attempt to systematically integrate a 
substantial amount of previously unpublished information into a 
cohesive, interpretive framework. 

Several aspects of the history of this landscape need further analysis, 
such as details on the installation and removal of fencing and light 
fixtures, and the change from oil lights to gaslights to incandescent 
fixtures. Some information for commemorative plantings is missing, 
particularly for trees that have died and the date and type of replace- 
ment; at times the available information is contradictory. 2 Once these 
topics are clarified, it would then be possible to prepare historic site 
plans for each of the eight periods identified in this document. 

How President's Park has been used is one of the most difficult facets 
to document systematically because judicious analysis of a broad 
spectrum of historical data would be required. Ceremonial functions 


2. The use of botanical names has been limited to commemorative plantings that arc 
listed in chapter 9. Names are based on I tortus Third: A Concise Dictionary of Plants 
Cultivated in the United States and Canada (New York: Macmillan 1976). 


5 

Introduction 



Context of this Report 


and uses are probably among the most important aspects of the site. 
However, the information available is fragmentary and needs to be 
pieced together to provide a systematic perspective of how cere- 
monial uses changed with time. Public use of the grounds has also 
changed. The site is synonymous with the idea of a democracy, and 
it has always been necessary to maintain the notion of accessibility 
to the president. However, security issues have often prevented 
public access, and information on this topic needs more systematic 
development and interpretation. 

Finally, the relationship between the landscape of President's Park 
and the surrounding neighborhoods needs to be carefully analyzed. 


Context of this Report 

For the purpose of this document President's Park has been defined as 
a designed historic landscape encompassing the White House, 
Lafayette Park, the Treasury Building, the Old Executive Office 
Building, and President's Park South . 3 The National Park Service's 
Cultural Resource Management Guideline describes a designed historic 
landscape as: 

• significant as a design or work of art; 

• consciously designed and laid out by a master gardener, 
landscape architect, architect or horticulturist according to a 
design principle, or an owner or amateur using a recognized 
style or tradition; 

• associated with a significant person, trend, or event in 
landscape gardening; or 

• has a significant relationship to the theory or practice of 
landscape architecture. 

A cultural landscape report is the primary document to guide the 
treatment of cultural landscapes. It presents the historical back- 
ground of the property, describes existing conditions, analyzes and 
evaluates the resource's significance and integrity, and provides 
guidance for future treatment. Recommendations for the treatment 
of cultural landscapes aim only to provide a broad framework for 
management- They are based on the analysis and evaluation of the 


3. The White House, in turn, can he subdivided into component landscapes. For 
example, the north lawn is a component landscape of the White House; others include the 
cast and west gardens and the upper and lower south lawn. 


6 

Introduction 



Context of this Report 


landscape characteristics that contribute to the significance of the 
resources. The purpose of the recommendations is to clarify preser- 
vation treatment for significant landscape resources and to provide a 
framework for new development that is compatible with the salient 
qualities and character of the cultural landscape. The preservation of 
landscape characteristics is usually the recommended management 
approach for properties that are nationally significant, but this does 
not prevent new development. 

The special nature of the site has precluded the development of 
treatment recommendations. Current management practices at the 
White House and President's Park follow the central prescription of 
the Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. 1935 report — preserve the historic 
aspects of the landscape, but at the same time adapt them to current 
needs. ^ 


4. Olmsted Brothers, Landscape Architects, "Report to the President of the United 
States on Improvements and Policy of Maintenance for the Executive Mansion Grounds" 
(Oct. 24, 1935), Olmsted Associates Papers, Manuscripts Division, Library of Congress. 


7 

Introduction 





VI 

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H Street 


Treasury 

Anno 


Blair 

House 


Pcmmlvanu Avenue 


fountain 


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Old 

Executive 
Office Building 


I- Street 


Hamilton PUiv 


Etrst Division 

Monument 


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s Maintcnui 


Pennsylvania Avenue South 


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Fountain 


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Milestone 


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Christmas 

Tree 


lil> 

Triangle 


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White House 
tour staging 


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Haupt Fountains 


Second Division 
Memorial 


Constitution Avenue 


Bulfinch Gatehouse 


Uultmch Gatehouse 


The White House and President's Park 


10 

Introduction 



The White House 
and President's Park 



Part I: The Evolution of President's Park 







Chapter 1 . The LEnfant Plan and the 
Beginning of President's Park: 1 791-1814 


C hapter 1 addresses the first two decades in the development 
of President's Park. The chief formative influence on the 
landscape of the site was the plan for the city of 
Washington conceived and drawn in 1791 by the French 
artist/architect Pierre Charles L'Enfant. Important features of the 
L'Enfant plan are its simplicity and dignity, the location of the city's 
main spaces and buildings, a plan for the dimensions and founda- 
tions of the President's House, and a general conceptual scheme for 
its grounds. L'Enfant also appears to have been the first one to use 
the term "President's Park." 1 

American presidents have had major influence on the evolution of 
the landscape of President's Park. George Washington selected the site 
and its original designer. Thomas Jefferson suggested important 
modifications to the L'Enfant plan and developed a conceptual design 
for landscape changes that was partially implemented. As president, 
Jefferson made the first concerted effort to landscape the grounds. To 
a lesser degree both John Adams and James Madison helped to estab- 
lish the tradition of presidential participation. 

After L'Enfant's departure from the project in February 1792, other 
talented designers refined and somewhat altered his general plan. 
Surveyor Andrew Ellicott drew the first engraved version of 
L'Enfant's plan, and Benjamin Henry Latrobe collaborated with 


1. The most complete summary of the city's initial physical history, derived from the 
earliest plans, maps, and views, as well as from textual sources, is found in John W. 
Reps, Monumental Washington: The Planning and Development of the Capital Center 
(Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1967), especially chapter 1: "Washington: The 
Founding and the Founders," 1-25. See also figure 1-2, Plan of the City Intended for the 
Permanent Seat of the Government of the United States, copy by the United States Coast and 
Geodetic Survey in 1887 of the manuscript plan for Washington, D.C., drawn by Pierre 
Charles L'Enfant, 1791, at the Library of Congress, Geography and Maps Division. 
William Seale also discusses L'Enfant and his plan in volume 1 of The President's House: A 
History (Washington, DC: The White House Historical Association, with the cooperation 
of the National Geographic Society, 1986), 2 vols., 1-21 . For a recent interpretation of the 
L'Enfant plan and its sources as well as of early 19th century plans for Washington, sec 
Pamela Scott, "'This Vast Empire': The Iconography of the Mall, 1791-1848," in The Mall 
in Washington, 3 791-1991, edited by Richard Longstreth (Washington, DC: The National 
Gallery of Art, 1991), 36-58. 


13 

Chapter 1. The L'Enfant Plan and the Beginning of President’s Park: 1 791-1814 



Location of the Capita! and 
President 'a Park 


Jefferson in drawing plans for architectural and landscape improve- 
ments at the White House. 

From the early years balancing the use of the site as private living 
quarters and as symbol of the presidency and the nation — the 
public seat of the executive branch of government — became a 
concern. There was a degree of tension between the need for privacy 
for the first family and the need for the president to appear accessible 
to the people. During this period a picket fence was installed (ca. 
1803). It was later removed when the substantial Jefferson wall was 
built, making a clear distinction between the private and the public 
space. The construction of the east and west terraces provided addi- 
tional privacy for the occupants of the President's House and allowed 
the public grounds to the north to be separated from the more 
private grounds to the south. 


Location of the Capital and President's Park 

During the 1780s the location of the nation's capital was the subject 
of considerable debate. As a result of the compromise regarding the 
national debt, the new Congress passed the Residence Act, which was 
approved by President Washington on July 16, 1790. This act did 
not specify an exact site for the capital; instead, it authorized 
Washington to select a location not more than 10 miles square on 
the Potomac River "at some place between the mouths of the Eastern 
Branch and the Connogcochegue." It also empowered the president to 
appoint three commissioners who were to arrange for the purchase 
of land. 1 


2. The selection of a site composed of land from Maryland and Virginia was the result 
of a 1790 political compromise. Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton proposed 
that the federal government assume the states' Revolutionary War debts — an estimated 
$25 million — an important offer to the New England states that had not repaid their 
debts. Southern states, with the exception of South Carolina, had repaid 83 percent of 
their debt and were upset at the prospect of bailing out their northern neighbors. A 
compromise began with Virginia legislators who opposed the assumption of debt, but 
bad a strong desire to host the national capital. The Residence Act refined the process by 
authorizing President Washington to select a location. Hamilton convinced New York 
congressmen to vote for the Potomac River site, and in return he secured enough support 
from Virginians to win. Pennsylvania and Virginia congressmen meanwhile negotiated a 
deal whereby Philadelphia would serve as the temporary capital, while the permanent site 
of Washington was developed for occupation in 1800. Paul S. Boyer et al., ed., The 
Enduring Vision: A History of the American People, vol. 1: To 1877 (Lexington, MA: D C. 
Heath and Co., 1990); Joseph R. Conlin, The American Past, Part I: A Survey of American 
History to 1877 (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1984), 161; National Park 
Service, U S. Department of the Interior (hereafter NPS), "L'Enfant Plan of the City of 
Washington, District of Columbia," by Sarah Amy Leach and Elizabeth Barthold, 


14 

Part 1: Tub Evolution of President's Park 



In October 1790 Washington visited the various sites that had been 
suggested for the capital, including Jefferson's first choice, the one 
near Georgetown that was ultimately selected. In November 
Washington and Jefferson discussed the matter in Philadelphia. At 
this meeting Jefferson recommended that two full blocks be set aside 
for the President's House and garden. The sketches he made showed a 
plan for a small town with a grid system of streets between the 
Potomac and the Anacostia Rivers. 3 

An accurate survey was needed before anything further could be 
accomplished. Washington turned to Andrew Ellicott, an experienced 
engineer, who began work early in 1791 to survey the boundaries of 
the city and to determine major features of topography. In March 
1791 Washington also engaged L'Enfant to lay down "the hills, 
valleys, morasses, and waters between that [the eastern branch], the 
Potomac, the Tyber, and the road leading from Georgetown to the 
eastern branch, and connecting the whole with certain fixed points of 
the map Mr. Ellicot [sic| is preparing.'" 1 

Pierre Charles L'Enfant (1754-1825) was the son of Pierre L'Enfant, 
painter-in-ordinary to the king of France, and Marie Charlotte Lullier 
L'Enfant. Between 1758 and 1766 the L'Enfant family lived at 
Versailles, where the elder L'Enfant helped decorate the Ministry of 
War Building. The young Pierre Charles thus came to know the city, 
the chdteau, and the grounds of Versailles extremely well. In 1771 he 
entered the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture in Paris, where 
he appears to have studied under his father. 5 In 1777, like many 
other young Frenchmen, L'Enfant volunteered to serve on the side of 
the colonists in the American Revolution. L'Enfant met George 
Washington at Valley Forge in the winter of 1777-78, where he 
drew a portrait of the general at the request of Lafayette. 


National Register of Historic Places, registration form, 1994, sec. 8, p. 6; Reps, Monu- 
mental Washington, 1-2. The first three commissioners — Daniel Carroll, Thomas John- 
son, and David Stuart — were appointed in January 1791. In June 1802 Jefferson abol- 
ished the office of the commissioners and established a superintendent of public buildings, 
to be appointed by the president. Seale, The President's House, 15. See also Frederick 
Doveton Nichols and Ralph E. Griswold, Thomas Jefferson: Landscape Architect 
(Charlottesville, VA: University Press of Virginia, 1978), 38-75. 

3. Both the sketches and notes Jefferson took at this meeting have survived; Reps, 
Monumental Washington, 2-4. 

4. Quoted in Reps, Monumental Washington, 5. 

5. H. Paul Caemmerer, The Life of Pierre Charles L’Enfant : Planner of the City Beautiful: 
The City of Washington (Washington, DC: National Republic Publishing Company, 1950), 
1-11. The Caemmerer biography is especially useful because it includes texts (although 
not always complete ones) of many of L'EnFanl's letters. See also Reps, Monumental 
Washington, 5-8. 


Location of the Capital and 
President's Park 


15 

Chapter 1. The L'Enfant Plan and the Beginning of President's Park: 1 791-1814 



Location of the Capital and 
President’s Park 


Washington then asked him to design a medal for the Society of the 
Cincinnati. L'Enfant went back to Paris in 1 783-84 but returned to 
this country to practice architecture in New York. In September 
1789 he wrote a letter to Washington asking to be employed on the 
design of the new capital city. 6 

By this time, progress was being made on determining the precise 
location of the city within the 10-square-mile district. Initially it was 
assumed that the capital city would be relatively small and that it 
could be located at various sites within the extensive tract of land 
being examined. Ultimately, however, the entire area between the 
proposed towns of Carrollsburg (on the Anacostia) and Hamburg (or 
Hamburgh, near Georgetown) was incorporated into the final plan. 7 
In 1791 Jefferson drew another sketch plan for the capital city, 
between the Potomac and the Tiber. The plan covered a very limited 
area, but the relationship between the capitol building and the 
President's House was similar to what was finally implemented. At 
about this time, L'Enfant was entrusted with the design of the entire 
city between Rock Creek and the Anacostia River. Figure 1-1 shows a 
retrospective map made in 1874, which illustrates the division of 
land within the city, the tracts owned by individual landholders, and 
the platted towns of Georgetown, Hamburg, and Carrollsburg; the 
L'Enfant plan is superimposed. As it evolved, L'Enfant's plan had 
marked differences from Jefferson's; L'Enfant disliked the grid street 
system and favored several nodes of development rather than a 
single concentrated settlement. At this juncture L'Enfant went to 
Jefferson and requested maps of the best planned and "grandest" 
European cities. Jefferson responded by sending him 10 maps from 
his personal collection. Among these were several French cities, 
including Marseilles, Lyon, Bordeaux, and Orleans, as well as Paris. 
In addition, there were maps of Frankfurt and Karlsruhe in Ger- 
many, Turin and Milan in Italy, and Amsterdam in the Netherlands. 6 


6. Cacmmcrcr, L'Enfant, 25, 38-39, 43-46, 69-130. See also Reps, Monumental 
Washington, 8-9. In 1789, L'Enfant remodeled New York's Old City Hall, which was 
renamed Federal Hall and served as the scat of Congress beginning in 1789, when New 
York City was the capital of the nation. 

7. Carrollsburg and Hamburg were very sparsely populated, however, the land had 
been platted in both areas in the expectation of future development. Reps, Monumental 
Washington, 9-13. 

8. Reps, Monumental Washington, 13-15. Contemporary plans of these cities (possibly 
even the same plans that Jefferson sent L'Enfant) are illustrated in Nichols and Griswold, 
Thomas Jefferson, Landscape Architect, figs. 21-32. The plans for Karlsruhe, Turin, Paris, 
and Amsterdam are illustrated in John W. Reps, Washington On View ; The Nation's Capital 
Since 1790 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1991), 19. 


16 

Part 1: The Evolution of President’s Park 



By June 1791, L'Enfant had completed a draft plan and a memo- 
randum, which he presented to Washington. Although this first plan 
has been lost, the accompanying memorandum has survived. 
Among his recommendations was a long diagonal avenue, today's 
Pennsylvania Avenue, connecting the "Presidential Palace" and the 
"Federal House." The President's House and its "garden park and 
other improvements" were to overlook the Potomac at approxi- 
mately their present locations. "Public walks" connected the 
President's House and the Capitol. L'Enfant stated that 

it will see 10 or 12 miles down the Potowmack |sic] front 
the town and harbor of Alexandria and stand to the view of 
the whole city. ... I placed the three grand Departments of 
State contigous (sicj to the principle [sicj Palace and on the 
way leading to the Congressional House the gardens of the 
one together with the park and other improvement on the 
dependency are connected with the puhlique [ sic] walk and 
avenue to the Congress house in a manner as most Isic] 
form a whole as grand as it will be agreeable and 
convenient to the whole city. 9 

In this same memorandum, L'Enfant vividly described Jenkins Hill, 
site of the future Capitol, as a "pedestal waiting for a monument."’ 0 

On August 19, 1 791, L'Enfant sent another plan and another memo- 
randum to the president. The plan (which may be the document in 
the Library of Congress’s Geography and Map Division and generally 
called the "Map of Dotted Lines") was a simple schematic outline 
map of the projected city showing principal streets and open spaces.” 
Part of the August 1791 memorandum is especially descriptive: 

The grand avenu Isic] connecting both the palace and the 
Federal House will be magnificent and most convenient, the 
streets running west of the upper square of the Federal 
House and which terminate in an easy slope on the canal 
through the fiber which it will overlook for the space of 


Location of the Capital and 
President 's Park 


9. L'Enfant to Washington, June 22, 1791, published in "L'Enfant’s Reports to 
President Washington, Bearing Dates of March 26, .June 22, and August 19, 1791," in 
Records of the Columbia Historical Society, vot. 2, 1899, 35-36. 

10. "L'Enfant’s Reports," 35. 

11. "L'Entant's Reports," 17. The 1791 "Map of Dotted Lines" is illustrated in Reps, 
Monumental Washington, fig. 8. There has been considerable question as to whether this 
"Map of Dotted Lines" actually is by L’Enfant, although L'Enfant used the term in his 
letter of Aug, 19, 1 791, to Washington. See J. L. Sibley Jennings Jr., "Artistry as Design: 
L'Enfant's Extraordinary City," The Quarterly Journal of the Library of Congress, 36, no. 3 
(Summer 1979), 249. Richard W. Stephenson has suggested that the map may have been 
drawn by Ellicott. See Richard W. Stephenson, "The Delineation of a Grand Plan," Journal 
of the Library of Congress, 36, no, 3 (Summer 1979), 207-24. 


27 

Chapter 1. The L'Enfant Plan and the Beginning of President's Park: 1 791-1814 



Location of the Capital and 
President's Park 


about two mile |sic] will be beautifull (sic] above what may 
be imagined — those other streets parallel to that canal, 
those crossing over it and which are as many avenues to 
the grand walk from the water cascade under the Federal 
House to the President Isicj park. 

The making of the publik [sic] walk from under the federal 
House as far as it is carried on the potomac [sic] and 
connected with the palace . . . will be productive of as much 
advantage ... in giving to the City ... a superiority . . . 
over most of the city [sic] of the world.' 2 

Later in August, L'Enfant went to Philadelphia and presented his final 
plan to Washington. The explanatory references that accompanied 
the plan included another mention of President's Park: "L. President's 
park and the K. well improved field, being a part of the walk from 
the President's house of about 1800 feet in breadth, and 3 A of a mile 
in length." 13 Although the August 1791 plan has survived, the paper 
has darkened, and the lines and writing have faded and become 
almost illegible. 14 For this reason, L’Enfant's final manuscript plan 
for the city is rarely published. It is best known from several later 
versions and reprints, of which the most accurate is the 1887 
facsimile copy made by the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey 
(figure 1-2). 

After his plan was accepted, L'Enfant made arrangements to have it 
engraved. It was supposed to be ready before the sale of lots of land 
in the city began in October, but the engraving was not completed 
on time. L'Enfant then arranged with Benjamin Ellicott, Andrew's 
brother, to make the engraving before the next sale of lots in the 
spring. Benjamin Ellicott turned the engraving over to Andrew, and 
L'Enfant discovered that numerous changes had been made from his 
original, including the removal of his name. Because of these delays 
and because L'Enfant was unable to develop a good working 


12. L'Enfant to Washington, in "L'Enfant's Reports," 39, 43. 

13. Quoted in Caemmcrer, L’Enfant, 164. 

14. L'Enfant's original manuscript plan is illustrated in color in Stephenson, "The 
Delineation of a Grand Plan," 212-13. The 1887 Coast and Geodetic Survey facsimile is 
discussed in the same article, 218-21. The Geography and Map Division of the Library of 
Congress now holds the original L'Enfant plan, but because of its extreme fragility, 
viewers who ask to see it are generally shown the 1887 facsimile. A very detailed 
discussion of the original L'Enfant plan, with numerous illustrations of details, can be 
found in Jennings, "Artistry as Design," 225-78. 


18 

Part): The Evolution of President's Park 



relationship with the three commissioners, Thomas Jefferson, at 
Washington's request, dismissed L'Enfant on February 27, 1792. 15 

The L'Enfant plan, incorporating the changes made by the Ellicotts, 
was finally engraved in November 1792. This is the plan that is 
generally referred to as the Ellicott plan (figure 1-3). A detail of the 
central portion of the Ellicott plan, showing President’s Park as 
envisioned by L'Enfant, is illustrated in figure 1-4. The chief differ- 
ence between the manuscript L'Enfant plan and the engraved Ellicott 
plan is that, on the latter, the outlines of many of the major build- 
ings, including the president's mansion, are indicated by heavy dark 
lines. These may reflect preliminary designs by L'Enfant for the 
foundations of these buildings, for he is known to have been work- 
ing on such designs early in 1792. It is almost certain that, if he had 
not been dismissed, L'Enfant would have designed the President's 
House. If it had been constructed as shown on the L'Enfant plan, the 
President's House would have been four times larger than it was 
ultimately built. L'Enfant also proposed channeling Tiber Creek into 
the Washington City Canal, along the line of the present Consti- 
tution Avenue. This was ultimately done, but the canal was not 
completed until about 1815. 16 

On the 1792 Ellicott plan, the executive mansion stands in the center 
of a large open space at the intersections of two major diagonal 
boulevards (Pennsylvania and New York Avenues) and two minor 
ones not yet named. On either side of the shaded area to the south, 
which indicates the park, are flanking executive office buildings. The 
Ellicott plan depicts the executive mansion in a way that, if executed, 
would have made the building completely open and visible from all 
sides and from a considerable distance down the diagonal 
boulevards. 17 


15. The engraving was done by Thackara and Valtance of Plbladelphia and by Samuel 
Hill of Boston. Caemmerer, L'Enfant, 169-247. L'Enfant was never paid in full for the 
Washington plan. In appendix A, 367-410, Caemmerer reproduces L'Enfant's numerous 
"memorials," or petitions, to the federal government for payment. See also Reps, 
Monumental Washington, 209-14, and Reps, Washington on View, 24-27. 

1 6. Seale, The President's House, 7-1 8; Reps, Monumental Washington, 1 6, 29. 

17. Reps. Monumental Washington, 22-25. The President's Park section of the L'Enfant 
manuscript plan, which, because of faintness and an erasure, can barely be seen, is 
illustrated in Jennings, "Artistry as Design," 257. A similar but much larger arrangement 
is shown for the Capitol. 


Location of the Capital and 
President's Park 


19 

Chapter 1. The L'Enfant Plan and the Beginning of President's Park : 1 791-1814 



The Grounds of the White House 


In 1 792 the government purchased the approximately 83-acre parcel 
allocated to the presidential palace on L’Enfant's plan and designated 
it as Appropriation Number 1 or Reservation Number 1. Its 
boundaries were H Street on the north, 17th Street on the west, Tiber 
Creek on the south, and 15th Street on the east. Excluded were city 
blocks 167 and 221 to the east and west of today's Lafayette Park, 
which were allocated for private development. At that time, the land 
had two owners: the southern part was the farm of David Burnes 
and the northern part the farm of the Peerce family, which had 
recently been purchased by Samuel Davidson. There was a cottage on 
the former Peerce property, near the northwest corner of today's 
Lafayette Park, which was soon taken down. 18 

Within the boundaries of today's President's Park, several elements 
survive from the L'Enfant plan: the general location of the White 
House and the flanking buildings, although not their dimensions and 
precise sites, and the major vistas, especially along the north/south 
axis. In addition, most of the land indicated by L'Enfant for parks or 
gardens is used as such today, but in different configurations. 19 


The Grounds of the White House 

On the 1792 Ellicott plan (detail in figure 1-4), the grounds south of 
the executive mansion were arranged according to L'Enfant's plan to 
frame a vista of the Potomac. The land was shaped to form 
descending terraces with a pool in the center of the southernmost 
terrace. There was no indication of a path system, plantings, or other 
landscaping that represents a park and gardens. 

In December 1791 L’Enfant staked out the foundations of the 
executive mansion. Early in 1 792 some foundation stones were laid 
according to his plan. The huge scale of this projected building 
became obvious, and to many it seemed excessive and unsuitable for 
a democracy. 20 At about this time, the term "presidential palace" 


18. Seale, The President’s House, 23-24. New evidence shows that the Peerce cottage was 
more likely to have been near the northwestern corner of the present Lafayette Park, 
rather than the southeastern corner, as formerly thought. See NPS, "Archeological 
Evaluation, President's Park, Washington, D C., 90% Draft," by John P. Pousson and 
Christine Hoepfner (Eastern Applied Archeology Center. Feb. 1995), 17-18. 

19. The L'Enfant plan also depicts features on the south lawn that may have been 
intended as a pair of mounds, although it was several years before these were 
constructed. 

20. In a similar vein, one of the commissioners of the District of Columbia is quoted as 
having written about the surroundings of what would be the President's House: "It may 


20 

Part I: The Evolution of President's Park 



The Grounds of the White House 


began to fall out of use, and the "President's House" became the 
more accepted term. In March 1 792, after L'Enfant's dismissal and at 
Thomas Jefferson's urging, a competition was held to choose a 
design for the house. 

Although the projected size of the building was not indicated in the 
announcement of the competition, it was stated that the preference 
was for a plan of which the central part could be constructed first 
and added to later. Irish-born architect James Hoban, who had 
immigrated to Charleston, South Carolina, won the competition. 
Hoban's initial plan was more modest than Washington wanted. The 
dimensions were enlarged at Washington's request, but they still fit 
well within the excavations already made for the projected L'Enfant 
structure. The north entrance of the building, according to the 
Hoban plan, was in the same spot as on the L'Enfant plan. However, 
the reduction in scale from the L'Enfant plan meant that the 
executive mansion was no longer on a direct axis from the Capitol 
along Pennsylvania Avenue. Hoban began to lay foundations in July 
1792, and the cornerstone was laid October 13, 1792. Huts for the 
workmen were built just to the north of the building site. On the 
low-lying land to the south of the site, a clay pit was dug and a 
small sawmill was erected, as well as saw pits. 21 

A distant view of the President's House from the southeast is illus- 
trated in figure 1-5. In this sketch, which documents the rural 
surroundings of the site at this time, Blodgett's Hotel is the large 
structure in the right foreground. The White House is the building in 
the distance, and the building immediately to its right is the 
Treasury. 

At the end of 1800 the President's House was sufficiently complete to 
allow the first family to move in. President John Adams took up 
residence on November 1, 1800, followed by his wife Abigail two 
weeks later. During the previous summer, Adams had William 
Thornton plant a vegetable garden on the northeast side of the 
President's House, near or within the former stoneyard. Except for 
this vegetable garden, the grounds were still ungraded and un- 
planted; there were no specimen trees or ornamental gardens. 


suit the genius of a despotic government to cultivate an immense and gloomy wilderness 
in the midst of a thriving city [but ) I cannot think it suitable in our station." Quoted on a 
board in the permanent exhibition on "Washington, Symbol and City" at the National 
Building Museum, Washington, DC. 

21 . Preparations for construction had been made before Hoban was selected. As a result 
of a shortage of funds one floor had to be eliminated during construction and the north 
elevation modified. Reps, Monumental Washington, 33-36, 38-39, 66. 


21 

Chapter J. The L'Enfant Plan and the Beginning of President's Park: 1 791-1814 



The Grounds of the White House 


Access was through the south entrance where temporary wooden 
steps were built. The Adamses lived in the President's House for only 
four months. 22 

In March 1801 Thomas Jefferson took up residence in the President's 
House. In his first recorded action concerning the grounds, he 
ordered the removal of an outdoor privy built for the Adamses. 
Instead, he had two water closets installed — one at each end of the 
upper floor. Another early improvement to the site was the 
construction of a rail fence surrounding at least the north side of the 
President's House. It was in place at least by 1803, as evidenced in an 
ad from the National Intelligencer. 23 

Jefferson planned so many architectural changes, most of them to 
the interior of the building, that Hoban was called back to implement 
them. In 1803 he appointed the British-born architect and engineer, 
Benjamin Henry Latrobe, to the newly created position of surveyor 
of the public buildings. Latrobe's principal duty was to complete the 
Capitol, but he became an important contributor to the post-Hoban 
designs for the President's House and its grounds. 24 

The most important of the exterior changes that Jefferson proposed 
was a plan for extensive terraces to connect to the executive office 
buildings on both sides of the President's House. According to 
Jefferson's conceptual scheme, the relationship between the 
President's House, the terraces, and the executive office buildings was 
similar to that in many of the designs by the Italian Renaissance 
architect Andrea Palladio for villas in 16th century Vicenza, which 
often had arcades connecting to service buildings. 25 Jefferson had also 
used a similar technique at Monticello. At the President's House, 
Jefferson sank the connecting terraces into the natural north/south 


22. Reps, Monumental Washington, 78-81. For Thornton's garden plans, see also George 
McCue, The Octagon: Being an Account of a Famous Washington Residence, Its Great Years, 
Decline and Restoration (Washington, DC: American Institute of Architects Foundation, 
1976), 49. 

23. Reps, Monumental Washington, 89-91, 109-11; Marilyn K, Parr, "Chronicle of a 
British Diplomat: The First Year in the 'Washington Wilderness,'" Washington History 12, 
no. 1 (Spring/Summer 2000), 79-89. 

24. Reps, Monumental Washington, 89-91, 109-11. 

25. See, for example, Palladio's Villa Barbara, Maser, exterior, plan and landscape 
illustrated in James S. Ackerman, The Villa: Form and Ideology of Country Houses 
(Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1990), figs. 4.10-4.13. Palladio’s elevation for the 
Villa Barbaro, as well as the plan, is illustrated in plate XXXIV of Andrea Palladio, The 
Four Books of Architecture (New York: Dover Publications, 1965). The Villa Barbaro is 
somewhat unusual in that the wings were actually buill; Palladio's clients frequently 
elected to leave them out. 


22 

Part 1: The Evolution of President's Park 



The Grounds of the White House 


slope of the land, so that they would be barely visible from the north 
side of the building. On the south, they were to be fronted with 
colonnades and would be on the same level as the exposed basement 
or ground floor of the house. Construction began on the terraces, 
but they were never extended all the way to the executive office 
buildings. 26 

Plans for the east and west terraces seem to have led Jefferson to 
formulate a comprehensive layout for the President's Park landscape. 
He returned the main entrance to the north. Temporary wooden 
steps provided access; eventually they were rebuilt in stone. A picket 
fence enclosed at least part of the site. An important drawing that 
has survived shows a projected scheme for landscaping the grounds 
in the vicinity of the President's House (figure 1-6). The drawing, 
probably made by Latrobe and annotated by Jefferson, called for a 
formal entryway, or at least a substantial set of piers or gatehouses 
at the north entrance. On March 17, 1807, Latrobe wrote to 
Jefferson referring to a drawing that apparently has not survived 
(but which seems to be quite similar to figure 1-6): 

I herewith submit to your consideration a project for laying 
out the grounds around the President's house. The present 
enclosure together with the buildings already erected and 
those projected are also laid down in their proper 
situations. . . . 

My idea is to carry the road below the hill under a wall 
about 8 feet high opposite to the center of the President's 
house. At this point I should propose, at a future date to go 
through an arch or arches, in order to provide a private 
communication between the pleasure ground at the 
President's house and the park which reaches to the river 
and which will probably be also planted, and perhaps be 
open to the public. 27 


26. Seale, The President's House, 109-17. In his design for the terraces as well as some 
aspects of the development of the grounds of the President's House, Jefferson followed, as 
he had at Monticello, the established European tradition of the fermc ornce, a type of 
residential landscape that incorporated farm or utilitarian structures blended into an 
ornamental setting. NPS, Administrative History: The White House and President’s Park, 
1791-1983; Epilogue 1983-1997, by William Patrick O'Brien (Denver Service Center, 
2001), 45. The report cites William L. Beiswanger, "The Temple in the Garden: Thomas 
Jefferson's Vision of the Monticello Landscape" (Charlottesville, VA: Thomas Jefferson 
Memorial Foundation, 1981), 170-73, 175, 181, 185. The Beiswanger publication has 
not been located in the Harvard Library System (HOLLIS) 

27. Latrobe to Jefferson, March 17, 1807, quoted in Olmsted Brothers, "Report to the 
President," 62-64. Frederick Law Olmsted Jr.'s historical consultant was Professor 
Morley Williams of Harvard University's Department of Landscape Architecture. 


23 

Chapter 1. Vie L’Enfant Plan and the Beginning of President's Park: 1 791-1814 



The Grounds of the White House 


A letter from Latrobe to Jefferson dated April 29, 1807 documents 
the ongoing design process for the White House grounds, on which 
Latrobe and Jefferson were cooperating, 28 Figure 1-6 illustrates how 
the horizontal extension of the building, made possible by the two 
terraces, allowed a complete separation between the public grounds 
to the north and the more private grounds to the south. This 
situation still holds today, although the north grounds are now open 
only to the eye. 

Another feature of the Latrobe/Jefferson plan to increase privacy 
was a high stone wall to be built around the entire perimeter (with 
the exception of the site of the future Lafayette Square and the 
executive office buildings) to replace the rail fence then in place. On 
the north, four tree-lined allees were to converge on the front 
entrance of the residence. The principal approach was to be a straight 
road, starting at a central gate in the perimeter wall, then passing 
between the two central allies and ending at a circle in front of the 
north entrance. Informal meandering paths, one of them marked "15 
feet wide," are also shown in the northern section. To the south, the 
main entrance was to be at Pennsylvania Avenue through a triple- 
arched gate and onto a drive that would curve picturesquely toward 
the east terrace and pass through an arch in the pavilion at the end 
of this terrace. On this part of the plan, a second hand seems to have 
drawn the line of the drive on top of a winding path drawn by the 
first hand. There are also annotations for a garden to the north just 
inside the gate, a wooded area just to the south and a "clump" 
between the two. The annotations seem to have been made by the 
second hand. A formal tapis vert, or rectangular panel of grass, the 
same width as the main block of the house and extending almost all 
the way to the wall, is depicted, probably by the first hand, along the 
main axis to the south. There is a strip marked "Border of Flowers" 
to both the east and west sides of the tapis vert. No landscape detail is 
shown for the southwestern part of the grounds. 29 

It is unclear just how much of President Jefferson's plan was carried 
out, since the records for this period do not show much landscape 


28 Latrobe to Jefferson, Apr. 29, 1807, quoted in Olmsted Brothers, "Report," 64-65, 

29. This drawing is discussed in Seale, The President's House, 112-13 and is also 
illustrated in Nichols and Griswold, Thomas Jefferson , Landscape Architect, 74. Seale 
suggests that the clumps are rhododendrons, but these do not appear to be specified on 
the drawing. If rhododendrons were used on the White House grounds in this period, 
they would probably have been native rhododendrons, since few rhododendrons from the 
Orient were introduced before the late 1 9th and early 20th centuries. See Donald Wyman, 
5/iwbs and Vines for American Gardens (New York: Macmillan Publishing Co., Inc., 1977), 
352-87. The Olmsted Brothers in their 1935 report illustrated this drawing as their 
figure 32 and date it as after 1808. 


24 

Part 1: The Evolution of President's Park 



The Grounds of the While House 


activity. Jefferson completed the drives to the north and south, as 
well as the southern entrance gate from Pennsylvania Avenue. He 
also planted trees. The 8-foot-high stone wall recommended by 
Latrobe was built to the north and south of the grounds and 
probably also to the east and west. A carriage gate in the east 
pavilion was constructed but collapsed around Christmas 1806, 
when the wooden centering was removed prematurely. 30 President 
Jefferson likely also maintained a garden of mixed vegetables, herbs, 
and annuals. 3 ' Most of this work may have been done in 1807, but 
the surviving survey conducted that same year does not contain 
enough detail to show the progress of the work. 32 

The "Jefferson mounds," two of the most significant features 
associated with the south lawn, might also date from this period. 
The April 29, 1807, letter from Latrobe to Jefferson is sometimes 
cited as evidence. 

At the President's house I have laid out the road on the 
principle of the plan exhibited to you. A small alteration of 
the outline of the enclosure to the south was necessarily 
made, which renders the whole ground infinitely more 
handsome, and accommodates the public with easier access 
from Pennsylvania Avenue to New York Avenue. 

In the plan submitted to and approved by you a semi-circle 
was struck to the south from the center of the bow of the 
house. This semi-circle carried the enclosure too far to the 
South. Mr. King, surveyor who laid out the city streets, will 
lay before you the new plan which differs from the other in 
being of oblong figure instead of a semi-circle, thus . 33 

At this point in the letter, Latrobe drew a sketch showing the new 
placement of the road. No landscape detail within the south grounds 
is depicted. Latrobe went on to list several advantages of the new 
plan, including the following: 

The Nature of the ground is consulted so far as to obtain 
the best level for the road with the least removal of earth. 


30. Seale, The President’s House, 116-1 7. 

3 1 . Scale, The President's House, 113-17. 

32. NPS, "Archeological Evaluation/' fig. 7. The survey is not dated, although it 
includes features that were not on the site until 1807. Elevations and topography are 
indicated throughout the area of the ca. 1807 survey and the "hachure" style of 
topographic rendering extends along the entire south enclosure wall. The survey is 
located in the Geography and Map Division, Library of Congress. 

33. Latrobe to Jefferson, Apr. 29, 1807, quoted in Olmsted Brothers, "Report to the 
President," 64-65. 


25 

Chapter 1. The L'Enfant Plan and the Beginning of President's Park: 1 791-1814 



The Grounds of the White House 


The road runs in such a manner that the President’s house 
is not overlooked from below and is covered by rising 
knowlls |sic] as the road rises. 3 ' 1 

It is this last statement that is usually interpreted to refer to the 
Jefferson mounds, but Latrobe could also have been describing an 
embankment created by the new cut of the road. No "knowlls” on 
the south lawn are shown in his sketch.-* 5 

Latrobe's April 29, 1807, letter to Jefferson is also valuable because 
of the detail concerning the construction of the road: 

The next step was to get down to the foot of the wall on the 
south side by cutting out the road to its proper width, 
leaving the internal dressing of the grounds until last. The 
building of the wall rendered it necessary to go to the per- 
manent depth of the road, otherwise I should have con- 
tented myself with laying it down on its right place, 
removing only so much earth as would have made the 
declivities convenient to the carriages. But this could not be 
done, and 1 contracted with Wheeler and Stame to level the 
ground from the great Walnut S. E. of the President's house 
to the War Office the width of the road footpath and wall. 36 

On December 27, 1805, President Jefferson reported to Congress 
that, in addition to the domestic sections of the east and west ter- 
races, a smokehouse with fireproof vaulting, a liquor cellar, and 


34. Olmsted Brothers, "Report to the President," 65. 

35. A strong case can be made from other sources to date the mounds to the Jefferson 
period, or at least only a few decades later. In October 1991 the John Quincy Adams dm, 
which stood on the southern slope of the eastern mound, had to be taken down, and its 
rings were counted. As a result, it was conclusively dated to 1826. According to the 
topographical map in the Olmsted Brothers 1935 report, the elm was located at an 
elevation of 46 feet, about 6 feet above the level of the adjacent lawn. The mound would 
obviously had to have existed at the time the tree was planted. Information on ring 
dating and replanting of the John Quincy Adams elm was kindly provided by Dale 
Haney, office of Irvin Williams, The White House, Oct. 24, 1994. The John Quincy 
Adams elm was replaced by a done of the original tree grafted to a seedling, also from the 
original tree, which was planted in the same location by First Lady Barbara Bush in the 
first week of December 1991. See also Olmsted Brothers, "Report," Plan no, 1. See also file 
on "Mounds on the South Grounds," Office of the Curator, The White House (hereafter 
abbreviated as OC/WH), WGA, Mar. 19, 1991. This file was compiled before the John 
Quincy Adams elm was taken down in 1991. Pousson and Hoepfncr argue that the 
mounds are not shown on the ca. 1807 survey and it is unlikely to have been an 
oversight by the author. A comparison of the 1807 topography and the area's modern 
contours suggests that the mounds were created ca. 1818-24 by the removal of soil 
around them as well as by filling. This argument would be supported by the conclusive 
1826 dating of the John Quincy Adams elm, NPS, "Archeological Evaluation," 32. 

36. Latrobe to Jefferson, Apr. 29, 1807, quoted in Olmsted Brothers, "Report to the 
President," 66. 


26 

Part L Thf. Evolution op President's Park 



cellars for wood and coal had been completed. 37 In 1806 a stable and 
a cowshed were added on the east side of the existing terrace, and in 
1809 a carriage house. 38 

On March 4, 1809, James Madison became president, and about two 
weeks later he and his wife moved into the White House. Madison's 
steward, Jean-Pierre Sioussat, supervised new plantings in the 
garden area designated by Jefferson. 39 A watercolor painting of the 
President's House, dated September 1811 and probably done by 
Latrobe, is illustrated in figure 1-7. This depiction may be idealized, 
since it is unclear whether the stone wall had been constructed at this 
time on the north side of the White House. 10 Although the stone 
eagle ornaments are not depicted anywhere else except in this draw- 
ing, apparently Sioussat purchased them from James Traquair in 
Philadelphia. 41 The straight approach road from the north leading to 
a semicircular forecourt is somewhat as shown in the Latrobe/ 
Jefferson drawing (figure 1-6), although the four tree-lined allees 
and meandering paths are absent. By 1811, and possibly as early as 
1796, some kind of roadway probably existed in front of the Presi- 
dent's House, where Pennsylvania Avenue is now. 12 A stone arch on 
the southeastern side of the grounds, designed by Latrobe and con- 
structed in 1807, appears in an 1820 drawing by the Baroness Hyde 
de Neuville, wife of the French minister to the United States (figure 
1 - 8). 13 


On June 18, 1811, President Madison declared war on Great Britain, 
initiating the War of 1812. The British invaded Washington on 


3 7. In 1807 Jefferson was given two grizzly bear cubs, which he displayed for a time in 
the circle in front of the north entrance to the White House. The cubs were eventually 
sent to Charles Willson Peak's museum in Baltimore; Seale, The President's House, 97, 
115. 

38. File on "White House Stables and Garages," OC/WH, Aug. 10, 1992. There appears 
to be no further information about the 1806 stable/cowshed, although reportedly there 
was an earlier stable associated with the President's House at 14th and G Streets, NW 
(information courtesy of John Pousson, NPS). 

39. Seale, The President's House, 119-22. 

40. William Seale, The White House: The History of an American Idea (Washington, DC: 
The American Institute of Architects Press and the White House Historical Association, 
1992), 41. According to Seale, the high stone wall was never built north of the 
President's House. This seems to contradict another statement in The President's House, 
166, where he states that President Monroe had the wall cut down to parapet height. 

41. Seale, The President’s House, 122. 

42. See H. P. Caemmerer, Washington, the National Capital (Washington, DC: n.p.; n.d.), 
229. 

43. Seale, The White House, 47. 


The Grounds of the White House 


27 

Chapter 1. The L'Enfant Plan and the Beginning of President's Park: 1 791-1814 



Lafayette Square 


August 24, 1814, and burned the President's House, as well as the 
adjacent office buildings, leaving only their shells. ‘ H An engraving by 
William Strickland shows that the approach road and fenced fore- 
court to the house do not appear to have been affected by the fire, 
and there was no damage to the grounds. However, the image 
depicts a bleak landscape, at least on the northeast side, which is the 
only part of the grounds that can be seen in any detail. No trees of 
any size are visible. Low-growing trees or shrubs and small clumps 
of ornamental plantings occupied the foreground. None of the plants 
is shown in sufficient detail for identification. 45 Figure 1-9 shows 
another 1815 view of the shell of the building, this time from the 
southwest, a drawing by the British artist George Heriot. A curving 
carriage drive is shown south of the President's House, and the arch 
at Pennsylvania Avenue is clearly visible. 


Lafayette Square 

The area that would become Lafayette Square and finally Lafayette 
Park has been described as "the panhandle to an otherwise long and 
rectangular tract.'" 16 L'Enfant refined his design so that the north 
corners would meet radial avenues that would extend through the 
"rectangular tract," converging on the north entrance of the 
President's House. 47 This was never implemented. On the 1792 
Ellicott plan (detail in figure 1-4) this space is shown simply as a 
plaza or forecourt in front of the President's House. This space was 
not yet separated from the executive mansion by the continuation of 
Pennsylvania Avenue. 

The center of the present Lafayette Park was occupied by a large 
temporary structure that served as the carpenters' workshop when 
construction on the President's House began. By the time the White 
House was completed in 1800, a temporary workmen's village had 


44. Scale, The President 's House, 130-37. 

45. William Seale, in The White House, 59, suggests that the low trees may be tree-of- 
heaven (/liZantfius altlssima), a tree introduced from China in 1784 that spreads very 
rapidly, especially in waste areas. This is possible, but the trees in the Strickland 
engraving do not really resemble tree-of-heaven and seem too neatly planted to have 
grown spontaneously. See Donald Wyman, Trees for American Gardens, 3rd ed. (New 
York: The Macmillan Company, 1990), 150-52. 

46. William Seale, "The Design of Lafayette Park." White House History, 2, no. 1 (June 
1997), 6. 

47. Seale, "The Design of Lafayette Park," 6. 


28 

Part I: The Evolution of President's Park 



President's Park South 


grown up around it. 48 After the workmen's huts were removed 
when the President's House was completed, a market was established 
at this site. Thomas Jefferson decided that the space was too large to 
be part of the grounds of the President's House and authorized its 
separation into a public park. 

While this area was briefly the site of the first city market, it 
functioned mostly as an unembellished town commons, and grazing 
was allowed throughout this period. During the War of 1812 the 
site was used for an encampment and a ground for military musters, 
and cannon were placed there. After the war it was used to store 
materials while the White House was being rebuilt. 4 ' 1 ' 

Pennsylvania Avenue was apparently not formally extended between 
the square and the grounds of the President's House until early in the 
1820s, but there was a pathway in this location at a much earlier 
date, as figure 1-7 illustrates. Access to the north side of the 
President's House appears to have been provided by way of a short, 
straight drive making a perpendicular egress off the public road and 
ending in an elongated semi-circle at the north door of the house. 50 


President's Park South 

Prior to 1791 the southern three-quarters of President's Park was 
part of the David Burnes farm. There is no indication that this area 
was used for anything except pasturage. Small parcels adjacent to 
Tiber Creek would have been sufficiently elevated and level to have 
been cultivated, but their small size and possibly poor drainage 
might have discouraged such use. 51 

During construction of the White House, the section of the south 
lawn nearest the house would have been subjected to considerable 


48. Inl797a racetrack, which extended westward to 20 th Street beyond the limits of 
the reservation, was laid out on the western side of the future park site. Seale, The 
President's House, 38, 66-67; Seale, "The Design of Lafayette Park," 6-19. 

49. Seale, "The Design of Lafayette Park," 8-9; NPS, Lafayette Park, Washington, D.C., by 
George J. Olszewski (Washington, DC: National Park Service, 1964), vii, 7. 

50. For information regarding the possibility that the opening of Pennsylvania Avenue 
might have been as early as 1 796, see H. Paul Caemmerer, Washington, the National 
Capital, 229 as quoted in "Historical Study of the Buildings along Madison Place, 
Lafayette Square, Washington, DC (Dolly [sic] Madison House, Benjamin Ogle Tayloe 
House, Belasco Theater and Wilkins Building)," 11; H34 National Landmarks 68A-3201, 
box 20, ARD/WHL/NPS; NPS, "Archeological Evaluation," 29. 

51. NPS, "Archeological Evaluation," 22. 


29 

Chapter 1. The L'Enfant Plan and the Beginning of President's Park: 1 791-1814 



The Grounds of the Treasury 
Building and the War Building 


disturbance. Clay for making brick was secured from this area, as 
well as from the site of the house itself. Apparently the site was 
deemed too wet for substantial construction activity, but there was 
at least one tempering pit, as well as some saw pits. 52 

The Ellipse did not exist as a distinct space during this period. On the 
1792 Ellicott plan (detail in figure 1-4) it is incorporated into the 
park between the President's House and the projected Tiber Canal. In 
1804, Latrobe prepared a plan for a canal and locks at the mouth of 
the Tiber (figure 1-10). Work was not started, however, on what 
became the Washington Canal until 1810, and the canal opened five 
years later. 53 


The Grounds of the Treasury Building and 
the War Building 

In October 1796, during the last year of his presidency, Washington 
himself sited the buildings for the Treasury and the War Office, to 
the east and the west, respectively, of the President's House, 
(Congress had wanted them to be located closer to the Capitol.) The 
following year designs by George Hadfield, an English architect who 
was then engaged at the Capitol, were accepted for these buildings, 
and after a two-year delay due to lack of funds, they were con- 
structed between 1798 and 1800, under the administration of John 
Adams. They were brick buildings that were two and one-half stories 
in height and designed in the Georgian style. 34 Some of the work 
done during the construction of the War Office building was of poor 
quality and was removed in November 1799 under James Hoban's 
supervision. 55 

In 1800, 130 federal employees moved into the Treasury and War 
Buildings in time for the opening of the first legislative session in 
November. 56 The nature of the early landscaping around these build- 
ings is unknown. 


52. NPS, "Archeological Evaluation," 22; Seale, The President's House, 66. 

53. Reps, Monumental Washington , 29. 

54. Seale, The President’s House, 72-73. 

55. Seale, The President’s House, 74. 

56. Andrew Dolkart, The Old Executive Office Building: A Victorian Masterpiece 
(Washington, DC: The Executive Office of the President, Office of Administration, 1984), 
4-6. 


30 

parti: the Evolution of President's Park 



Around 1805 Benjamin Latrobe designed a separate building for the 5ummao' 

LI. S. Treasury known as the Treasury vault. It was constructed 
shortly afterwards. 57 

In 1814 during the War of 1812 the executive office buildings and 
the Treasury vault were gutted by fire, along with the White House 
and the Capitol. 


Summary 

In 1791 L'Enfant designed a grand conceptual plan for the new 
capital of the United States. Despite his early departure from the 
project, L'Enfant's urban vision for the city of Washington was 
realized in its most essential features. Two elements survive from his 
plan: the general location of the White House and the flanking 
executive office buildings, although not their dimensions and precise 
sites, and the major vistas, principally along the north/south axis. 
The simplicity and dignity of the original L'Enfant design, although 
disregarded during the first half of the 1 9th century, again became 
the guiding principles for landscape decisions in President's Park, 
particularly after 1935 when they received the full endorsement of 
Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. 

Providing privacy for the president became a concern from the 
beginning. The east and west terraces, the Jefferson wall (which 
would not be completely removed until 1871), and the Jefferson 
mounds, which still stand today, are important features that reflect 
an effort to address this concern. 

Major factors contributed to the development of the landscape during 
this period — the participation of incumbent presidents in designing 
and making modifications to the site; the use of the site both as 
private living quarters and public seat of the executive branch of 
government; the concept that the White House as a symbol of the 
presidency and of the nation; and the relationship of the White 
House to other executive offices, as well as to the legislative and 
judicial branches. Finally, designers like Pierre Charles L'Enfant, 
James Hoban, George Hadfield, and Benjamin Latrobe all contributed 
their talent and imagination to the evolution of President's Park. 


57. Information provided by David R. Krause (Executive Support Facility, Office of White 
House Liaison, National Park Service; hereafter abbreviated as ESF/WHL/NPS). 


31 

Chapter 1. The L'Enfant Plan and the Beginning of President's Park: 1 791-1814 





Figure 1-1: Sketch of Washington in Embryo, Viz.: Previous to the Survey by Major LEnfant. Compiled from the rare liistorical 
researches of Dr. Joseph M. Toner. Compilers E. E M Faehtz and F. W. Pratt, 18 74. 'Library of Congress, Geography and 
Maps Division. 



33 

Chapter 1. The LEnfant Plan and the Beginning of President’s Park: 1 791-1814 





[■•VlVltiSS: 

B S* 


ItrfrrmOiL 


Figure 1-2: Plan of the City Intended for the Permanent Heat of the (Government of the United States. Copy by the United States 
Coast and Geodetic Survey in 1887 of the manuscript plan for Washington, D.C., drawn by Pierre Charles L’Enfant, 1791. 
Library of Congress, Geography and Maps Division. 



34 

Part 1: The EvoumoN of President’s Park 








Figure 1-.3: Plan oj the City of Washington in the Territory of Columbia. Andrew Ellicott. F.ngraved by James Thackara and 
John Vallance, Philadelphia, 1 792. Library of Congress, Geography and Maps Division. 



35 

Chapter I The T Enfant Plan and the Beginning of President's Park: 1791-1814 






‘ r ^fzprr- rr ^r r - rr ^ [^ F /:rTrrr] 
’^FFEFKrrFFF^ r ^pi ( £IP|Fp| 

r-i — rrrr rJ crH**rrs ts^&. / l-r hhr 

^ i rrrrF 

r~pZ rFr c 

F 

rrrr-^r 

rr FFr 

feS" 5 J 

ifTPt 


Figure 1 4 Detail of Ellicott's Plan showing the President's House. From Plan of the City of Washington in the Territory of 
Columbia. Andrew Ellicott. Engraved by Tharkara and Vallance. Philadelphia. I 792 Library of Congress, Geography and 
Maps Division. 


36 

Part 1: The Evolution of Presidf.nt's Park 







1 

Imm 




Figure 1-5: While House, 1 799: After a Sketch by N. King. Huntington Library. San Marino. California. 


The White House is the building in the distance, with the Treasury Building immediately to its right. Blodgett's Hotel is the 
large building on the right. 



37 

chapter 1 the L'tnf.wt Plan unit the Beginning of President's Pork 1 7911814 






Figure 1 6: Sketch P/an for Improving the Grounds. Attributed to Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Latrobe, Robert Mills, n.d. 
(ca. 1802-1805?). Library of Congress, Geography and Maps Division. 


38 

Part I: The Evolution of President's Park 






/*7JV J 

«• / , /. f.u sxs e . - ■•«' >r~ it / t y L^t . -* , <V/_ 

Figure 1-7: The President's House in the City of Washington. Attributed to Benjamin Latrobe (watercolor), September 1811. 
Mrs. John M. Scott, Jr., Mobile, Alabama. 


39 

Chapter 1. The L Enfant Plan and the Beginning of President's Park: 1791 1HI4 




Figure 1 8: Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington et La Porte ilu Janlin ilu President (Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington and the Gate 
of President's Garden). Baroness Hyde dr Neuville (drawing). 1821 © Collection of The New York Historical Society. 


40 

Part I: The Evolution of Pre-sipe-vt's Park 







41 

Chapter I the L’ infant Plan and the Beginning of President’s Park: 1 791-1814 




Figure 110: Map of the Proposed Washington Canal and Locks Benjamin Henry Latrobe, 1804. Library of Congress. 
Geography and Maps Division. 


42 

Part I: The Evolution of President's Park 





Chapter 2. The Shaping of President's Park: 

1815-1850 


C hapter 2 traces the history of President's Park during the 
first half of the 19th century. Throughout this period the 
grounds around the President's House slowly began to take 
shape as design and construction progressed in a more 
complete and elaborate form than that envisioned by L'Enfant. 1 
Charles Bulfinch prepared a plan for Lafayette Park that was 
partially implemented in the early 1820s. Progress in the Ellipse was 
slower, but by the late 1840s improvements on the public grounds 
were taking place. The State and Treasury Buildings were recon- 
structed after the War of 1812 and two new ones — War and Navy 
— were added. Less than two decades later, the Treasury Building 
was destroyed by fire in 1833. Construction began on the newly 
designed structure on 1836, but it would not be finished until 1869. 

During the first part of this period attention was focused on rebuild- 
ing the President's House and adjacent buildings after being burned 
by the British. President James Madison adopted the policy that all of 
the buildings that were destroyed or damaged should be rebuilt 
exactly as they had been before the fire. John Quincy Adams, James 
Monroe, Andrew Jackson, and Martin Van Buren continued the 
tradition of presidents playing an important role in the evolution of 
the landscape. 

President James Monroe was instrumental in attracting both Charles 
Bulfinch and Paulus Hedl to design important features that have 
characterized the landscape at President's Park. Robert Mills put 
forward a comprehensive plan for the Mall and designed the 
Treasury Building, using a fireproof construction method that he 


1. In 1816 Congress passed an art reestablishing the Office of the Commissioner of 
Public Buildings that had been abolished by Jefferson in 1802. During the period covered 
by this chapter, the commissioners of public buildings were Samuel Lane (1816-22), 
Joseph Elgar (1822-34), William Noland (1834 46). Andrew Beaumont (1846-47), 
Charles Douglas (1847-49). and Ignatius Mudd (1849-51). In 1849 the United States 
Department of the Interior was established. The commissioner of public buildings 
remained responsible for President’s Park and other public buildings and spaces, but the 
office was placed under the jurisdiction of the Department of the Interior until 1867. 
Mary-Jane M. Dowd, comp., Records of the Office of Public Huildings and Public Parks of the 
National Capital, Record Group 42, Inventory No. 16 (Washington, DC: National Archives 
and Records Administration, 1992), 29-30. 


43 

Chapter 2. The Shaping of President's Park: 1815-2850 



The Grounds of the White House 


had pioneered. John Quincy Adams set an important precedent by 
treating the grounds of the President's House as a kind of arboretum 
for American trees and plants. During the presidency of Andrew 
Jackson the grounds were extensively graded, paths laid, and drives 
realigned, both on the north and south grounds. Large quantities of 
trees and shrubs were planted, particularly on the south lawn. It was 
during the Jackson administration that the general form of the 
grounds of the President's House took on an appearance that would 
be recognizable today. Jackson's successor, Martin Van Buren, was 
keenly interested in horticulture and continued the type of landscape 
improvements his predecessors had begun. John Tyler initiated the 
practice of Marine Band concerts on the south lawn. 

Improvements during this period included lighting the grounds, first 
with oil lamps and by the late 1840s with gaslights. Ornamental 
anthemion fences were installed on the north grounds between the 
columns of the north portico, lining the southern edge of the 
carriageway, and serving as a parapet on both side of the north 
portico to prevent possible falls. 2 


The Grounds of the White House 

After the British burned the President's House in 1814, President 
James Madison and First Lady Dolley Madison lived in the Octagon 
House at 1799 New York Avenue. They never returned to the White 
House. 3 In 1815 James Hoban was brought back to reconstruct the 
President’s House and also to rebuild the two executive office build- 
ings. At the same time Latrobe returned from Pittsburgh, primarily 
to supervise the rebuilding of the Capitol (also damaged by the 
British), although he soon began making plans for the President's 
House. Latrobe's 1817 plans called for the north and south porticoes, 
but also envisioned a complete new plan for the interior of the house. 
Latrobe's plan was contrary to Madison's mandate to rebuild and 
repair, and by the end of 1817 Latrobe left Washington for New 
Orleans. Meanwhile, Hoban undertook the actual work on the 
President's House. Hoban's plans also included north and south 
porticoes, but they would be completed at a later date. The initial 
structural assessment of the building after the fire had proved 


2. Anthemion is a Greek ornamental motif based on the honeysuckle or palmette. It 
consists of flora! or foliated forms arranged in a radiating cluster, but always flat. 

3. McCue, The Octagon, 58-62; Pamela Scott and Antoinette J. Lee, Hull dings of the 
District of Columbia, Buildings of the United States Series, Society of Architectural 
Historians (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993), 216-17 


44 

Part 1: The Evolution of President’s Park 



Vie Grounds of the White House 


optimistic, and some of the exterior walls had to be taken down. In 
order to finish the rebuilding quickly, Hoban substituted timber for 
brick in some of the interior partitions, one of the factors that forced 
the massive rebuilding of the President's House some 135 years later 
during the Truman administration. 4 

On March 4, 1817, James Monroe became president and by the end 
of that year, the rebuilding of the President's House was complete. It 
was officially opened to the public on New Year's Day, 1818. 
Jefferson's terraces were rebuilt as they had been at the end of his 
presidency, but the planned extensions of the terraces to the 
executive office buildings were never made. In 1818 Monroe added a 
stable to the west terrace but had it turned south at right angles to 
the main block of the President's House, so that it was not visible 
from the north. Between the President's House, the west terrace, and 
the new stable was a brick courtyard. In 1818 Monroe also had the 
New York ironworker Paulus Hedl construct entrance gates for the 
north side, possibly designed by Hoban, Hedl himself, or Charles 
Bulfinch, and mounted on a parapet wall. 5 This ornamental fencing 
remained on the grounds until the 1970s, when the last remaining 
section was reproduced in heavier materials and securely anchored in 
concrete. Monroe wanted to complete Jefferson's terraces as he had 
planned them, but the Panic of 1819 prevented it. 6 

In December 1819 Hoban reported that the pedestal work, coping, 
iron gates, and iron railings "circular and straight" at the President's 
House had been completed. He also reported that the area north of 
the house had been "graduated" (graded) and the carriageways and 
footways laid out and graveled. Additionally, posts were built that 


4. The south portico was a feature of Hoban's 1793 floor plan, although in Hoban's 
plan the portico extended across the entire facade; Scale, The President's House, 138-43. Also 
see Seale, The White House, 59-63. 

5. The present entrance gates arc replicas of Hedl's; the originals are in museum 
storage; Seale, the President's House, 144, 149, 151-52; Seale, The White House, 88. 

6. The Panic of 1819 was the first major depression to affect the emerging nation. The 
years of prosperity following the War of 1812 had witnessed sharp price increases and 
uncontrolled land speculation. Both the state banks and the Bank of the United States 
extended generous credit to business promoters and land speculators. However, by the 
end of the decade an accumulation of adverse economic forces brought a sudden end to 
these activities. A decline in European demand for American products and a shrinking 
market for textiles, combined with the Bank of the United States calling in loans, 
produced a financial panic that forced many state banks to close. Prices fell dramatically; 
farmers and planters saw their lands sold at public auction, speculators and business 
promoters forfeited property for failing to pay their loans, and more than half a million 
workers lost their jobs when factories, offices, and shops dosed or curtained operations. 
John M. Blum, et al.. The National Experience: A History of the United States (New York: 
Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Publishers, 1989), 189, 201-2. 


45 

Chapter 2, The Shaping of President's Park: 1815-1850 



The Grounds of the White House 


were to be connected with iron chains for the protection of the 
footways. 7 However, in January 7820 it was reported that "repair- 
ing and finishing the wall, gates, railing, etc. north of the President’s 
House" had not yet been completed. 8 In 1824 Monroe had Hoban 
build the long deferred south portico in Seneca stone. 9 

Numerous drawings and engravings show the President's House as it 
appeared shortly after its rebuilding. Perhaps the most vivid is the 
watercolor by the Baroness Hyde de Neuville in 1820 (figure 2-1), 
which illustrates the reconstructed President's House looking almost 
diminutive between the two rebuilt and the two new red-brick 
executive office buildings. By the time the baroness made her 
watercolor, the wall, fence, and gates had been completed, and some 
neat but very small plantings appear near the north boundary on 
either side. The group of five buildings seems to sit in the middle of a 
barren plain, at least in this view, since Pennsylvania Avenue does 
not yet seem to have been cut through between the grounds of the 
President's House and Lafayette Square. No planting whatsoever is 
visible in Lafayette Square. 10 

In the summer of 1817 Monroe visited Boston where Charles 
Bulfinch, Boston's foremost architect, greeted him. During Monroe's 
weeklong visit, Bulfinch was his constant companion. Bulfinch's son 
Stephen Greenleaf Bulfinch recalled that Monroe "was pleased with 
the public buildings . . . and found that the architect of them was the 
gentleman at his side." A few months later, Monroe offered Bulfinch 
the position of architect of the Capitol with a salary of $2,500 a year 
and relocation expenses. Bulfinch accepted and stayed in Washington 
until 1829, when he retired to Boston.” 


7. "Report of James Hoban in Report of the Commissioner of the Public Buildings," 
Dec. 23, 1819. 

8. "Report of the Committee on So Much of the President's Message as Relates to the 
Public Buildings, January 6, 1820," in Report, Commissioner of Public Buildings, Nov. 27, 
1820, 2. 

9. Seale, The President's House, 159-60. 

10. A photograph of another painting by Anne- Marguerite Hyde de Neuville shows the 
President's House from the southeast in 1821, OC/WH. No landscape detail is shown. 
The painting itself is in an unidentified colleclion in Paris. The whole ensemble has an 
eerie but probably accidental resemblance to Inigo Jones's Queen's House in Greenwich, 
England, as seen from the London side of the Thames, framed by Christopher Wren’s 
later Royal Naval Hospital buildings; John Summcrson, Architecture in Britain, 
1530-3830 (Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1977), 130-32, 247-50. 

11. Harold Kirker and James Kirkcr, Bulfinch's Boston, 1787-1817 (New York: Oxford 
University Press, 1964), 264—271. Bulfinch's letters relating to his period in Washington 
are published in Ellen Susan Bulfinch, cd., The Life and Letters of Charles Bulfinch, Architect 


46 

Part 1: The Evolution of President's Park 



Like Latrobe, Bulfinch became involved in plans for the President's 
House and grounds. In January 1818 he wrote to his wife, "I have 
visited with the superintendent all parts of the President's house. 
This building does not form any part of my concern or impose any 
duties upon me; but 1 thought it best to become acquainted with 
it." 12 He also visited "the kitchens, out grounds and intended 
improvements . " 1 3 

Bulfinch appears to have made plans, now lost, for laying out the 
grounds, which were not implemented (possibly because of the Panic 
of 1819), unless the improvements made later by John Quincy 
Adams and Andrew Jackson were derived from them. 14 

Toward the end of 1817 Monroe engaged Charles Bizet, a French 
immigrant to Virginia, as gardener. His duties are difficult to docu- 
ment, especially in view of the fact that visitors to the President's 
House during the Monroe administration described no evidence of 
any landscaping activities. Bizet may simply have maintained a 
vegetable garden. 15 Few landscape activities were documented for the 
remaining years of the Monroe administration, although in 1824 the 
road near the president's gate (probably the southeast gate) was 
surfaced with a mixture of sand, tar, and gravel, the first known 
attempt to pave driving surfaces at the site. 16 

During this period lighting of President Park's became a reality. The 
1820s drawing by the Baroness Hyde de Neuville (figure 2-1) shows 
five lighting fixtures (quite likely wrought iron oil lamps) along the 
Pennsylvania Avenue fence — one on the central panel and one at 
each of the four gate piers. 


(New York: Burt Franklin, 1973), 191-269. Bulfinch and President Monroe had met for 
the first time six months earlier when Bulfinch was touring the country inspecting 
hospitals before submitting his design for Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. 
Monroe had never been to Boston, however, and thus had not seen Bulfinch's architec- 
ture, nearly all of which is in Massachusetts. See Kirker and Kirker, Bulfinch's Boston, 265. 

12. Charles Bulfinch to Hannah Apthorp Bulfinch, Jan. 7, 1818, in Bulfinch, Charles 
Bulfinch, 215. There are no other Bulfinch letters in this book, originally published in 
1896, that relate to President's Park. Bulfinch's papers were then in the possession of the 
family, but the manuscript materials seem to have been lost since that time, except for 
some family letters that were owned by Comdr. Charles Bulfinch in 1969. See Harold 
Kirker, The Architecture of Charles Bulfinch (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 
1969), 389. 

13. Kirker, Charles Bulfinch, 389. 

14. Seale, The President’s House, 167. 

15. Seale, The President's House, 167. 

16. NPS, Administrative History, 59, cites “Journal of the Commissioner of Public 
Buildings, 1824," p. 9, RG 42. 


The Grounds of the White House 


47 

Chapter 2. The Shaping of President's Park: 1815-1850 



The Grounds of the white House In 1825 John Quincy Adams became president. Adams, whose prin- 

cipal hobby was horticulture, had a special interest in raising trees 
from seedlings and in growing mulberry trees for silkworms. When 
he moved to Washington, he helped to establish the city's first 
botanic garden. Throughout his life, he maintained a library on 
gardens and tree culture. 17 

As president, Adams hired John Ousley to replace Charles Bizet; 
Ousley stayed at the White House as head gardener until 1852. 
Adams's diary records his numerous activities on the grounds of the 
President's House. During his one-term presidency, Adams set the 
precedent for treating the grounds of the President's House as a kind 
of small arboretum of American trees and plants. Among the native 
trees that he grew from seed were walnuts, oaks, chestnuts, 
catalpas, honey locusts, and the American elm that survived on the 
eastern of the two Jefferson mounds until 1991. 18 When they 
reached a sufficient size, Adams's seedlings were transplanted to a 
nursery area on the southwest part of the grounds. Undoubtedly, 
some were eventually planted permanently on the grounds. 19 Adams 
also expanded the ornamental, vegetable, and herb gardens designed 
by Jefferson just inside the south entrance gate to 2 acres. Enclosed 
with a wooden fence, the garden area was equipped with its own 
water supply and two cold frames. Among the vegetables that 
Adams grew were carrots, parsnips, and Jerusalem artichokes. It 
was not unusual for Adams to mix in the same bed fruit trees, 
spring bulbs, perennials and annuals, ground cover plants and 
berries. Adams used Jefferson's Treasury vault, which was in 
disrepair and fire damaged, as a tool shed. 10 

In the summer of 1827, Adams wrote: 


17. At his family home in Quincy, Massachusetts, Adams planted several American 
elms, the last of which survived until 1981. No trees planted by Adams appear to survive 
today at the Adams National Historic Site, but after the move to Washington Louisa 
Catherine Adams took a yellowwood tree to Quincy. It still grows in the garden at 
Quincy. NPS, "The President's Garden: An Account of the White House Gardens from 
1800 to the Present," by Eleanor M. McPeck (Washington, DC, 1971), 14-16. 

18. Seale, The President's House, 168-69. See also Barbara McEwan, White House 
Landscapes : Horticultural Achievements of American Presidents (New York: Walker and 
Company, 1992), 81-95. The John Quincy Adams elm was ring dated and proved to be 
165 years old in 1991; meaning it was planted in 1826. If Adams planted this elm in the 
fall of 1826, it might have been to commemorate his father John Adams and Thomas 
Jefferson, both of whom died on July 4, 1826. See chapter 1, footnote 35. 

19. NPS, "The President's Garden," 15. 

20. NPS, "The President's Garden," 15; Seale, The President's House, 168-69. 


48 


PART 1: Tt IE EVOLUTION OF PRESIDENT'S PARK 



The Grounds of the White House 


In this small garden of less than two acres, there are forest 
and fruit-trees, shrubs, hedges, esculent vegetables, kitchen 
and medicinal herbs, hot-house plants, flowers and weeds, 
to the amount, I conjecture, of at least one thousand. One 
half of them perhaps common weeds, most of which have 
none but the botanical name. 1 ask the name of every plant 
I see. Ousley, the gardener, knows almost all of them by 
their botanical names. . . . From the small patch where the 
medicinal herbs stand together I plucked this morning 
leaves of balm and hyssop, marjoram, mint, rue, sage, tan- 
sy, tarragon, and wormwood, one-half of which were 
known to me only by name — the tarragon not even by 
that. 2 ' 

On May 23, 1828, Adams noted the following tree seedlings sprout- 
ing in his nursery: 50 Spanish cork-oaks, several black walnuts 
planted two months earlier, almond trees, ashes, and ash-leafed 
maples. 22 

Figure 2-2 presents an 1826 watercolor sketch of the President's 
House and its grounds from the southwest made by Anthony St. 
John Baker. In the foreground is Adams's fenced-in tree nursery. The 
stone wall built around the southern part of the grounds during the 
Jefferson administration is clearly visible, although Latrobe's road 
seems roughly cut, especially to the west. Adams's 2-acre enclosed 
garden is out of view to the east, but a clump of trees on a low 
mound can be seen near the southern edge of the lawn. 

Between 1822 and 1859 John Sessford published yearly reports of 
improvements in the city of Washington in the National Intelligencer. 
Reprinted in 1908 by the Columbia Historical Society, these reports 
provide a valuable source for activities on the grounds of the 
President's House since the administration of John Quincy Adams. 23 


21. John Quincy Adams, Memoirs of John Qjtiniy Adams (Philadelpliia: J. B. Lippincott and 
Company, 1876), 8:141, quoted in NPS, "The President's Garden,’’ 15. 

22. John Quincy Adams, The Diary of John Quincy’ Adams, 1794-1845, edited by Allan 
Nevins (New York: Frederick Ungar Publishing Co., 1951), 374-75. This one-volume 
edition gives only a small sampling from John Quincy Adams's diary, and even the 12- 
volume edition of the Memoirs (cited above) is a selection as well. For the Spanish cork 
oak, which Thomas Jefferson also used at an early date, see Wyman, Trees for American 
Gardens, 411. 

23. John Sessford emigrated from Northumberland, England, as a young man and 
settled in Washington about 1 802. A printer by trade, he was at one time foreman of the 
comjjosing room of the National Intelligencer. About 1808 he received an appointment in 
the Treasury Department, where he remained until his death on February 23, 1862, at 
the age of 86, Between 1822 and 1859, Sessford published his accounts of construction 
activity in the District of Columbia in the National Intelligencer. See "The Sessford 
Annals," Records of the Columbia Historical Society, vol. 11, 1908, 271-72. 


49 

Chapter 2 The Shaping of President's Park: 1815-1850 



The Grounds of the White House 


In 1826 Sessford wrote that the grounds attached to the President's 
House were nearly ready for laying off in walks. The following year 
he added that, "the grounds around the President's House have 
received the form required for laying off into walks, etc." 2 ' 1 

Andrew Jackson became president on March 4, 1 829. Like his 
predecessor, Jackson was a devotee of horticulture and garden art 
and his home at the Hermitage near Nashville, Tennessee, reflected 
his interest. 25 Whether because of the recent death of his wife or for 
other reasons, most grounds improvements date from his second ad- 
ministration, except for the construction of the north portico in 
1829. 

Up to this time there was a small fence to keep the carriages off the 
north lawn. After the north portico was finally built the area became 
better defined as three anthemion railings were installed. 26 One was 
located between the columns of the portico and was mostly orna- 
mental. The second served as a parapet on both sides of the portico to 
limit accidents and prevent falls; the third along the inner (northern) 
edge of the semicircular carriageway limited access and damage to 
the north grounds. By this time the north side of the President's 
House was relatively well illuminated, with at least eight light 
fixtures, three had been added to the five lighting fixtures already 
present when the ornamental anthemion railing was installed 
between the columns. 27 During the Jackson administration both the 
line of the northern entrance drive and the fence line were realigned. 
The fence line along Pennsylvania Avenue still bowed in slightly at 
this time. 

Jackson may also have had two milk cooling troughs installed under 
the portico, one of which still survives today although not in its 
original location. In 1830 an estimate was given for "closing of the 
public grounds between the circular road and the Tiber." Presumably 
the circular road was the one built for President Jefferson by Latrobe 
that appears in the 1826 watercolor illustrated in figure 2-2. 28 


24. "The Sessford Annals," 284, 287. 

25. Stanley Horn, The Hermitage, Home of Old Hickory (New York: Greenberg Press, 
1950), 74-75, cited in NPS, “The President's Garden,” 1 7. 

26. The anthemion railings in the front of the President's House can be seen in figures 
2-5, 2-6, 3-5, 3-12, and 4-6. 

27. Seale, The President's House, 202-3. 

28. Seale, The President's House, 172-76; file on "Water Trough on South Grounds," 
OC/WH, June 5, 1991. For the circular road, sec Journal of the Commissioner of Public 
Buildings, 7 (1830): 19, cited in NPS, Administrative History, 88-89. 


50 

PART I: THE EVOLUTION OF PRESIDENT'S PARK 



The Grounds of the White House 


In 1833-34 a new stable of stuccoed brick with Aquia stone trim 
was built just outside the La trobe/ Jefferson arched entrance gate and 
technically off the grounds of the President's House. It had a brief 
existence, being taken down when the Treasury was extended in 
1851, and no view of it seems to have survived.” In 1833 a new 
water supply system was installed for the President's House. Fresh 
water was piped from natural springs in City Square no. 249 (now 
Franklin Square) to three reservoirs on the grounds: one between the 
Treasury and State Buildings on the east and the others between the 
War and Navy Buildings on the west. 30 

During his second administration, President Jackson returned to his 
interest in landscape and horticulture. He retained John Ousley, but 
in the early 1830s he also hired Jemmy Maher, public gardener of 
the city of Washington. Maher, who owned a nursery in the city, 
had experience in large-scale public works and look over earth 
moving and tree planting activities on the grounds. Ousley, whose 
title became "gardener to the president,” retained his horticultural 
duties. A third gardener, William Whelan, was in charge of the 
vegetable garden. 

In 1833 a writer praised the condition of the President's House, but 
he commented that, "the grounds . . . have an unfinished and 
neglected appearance; we hope they will not long remain so rude and 
uncultivated." 31 During the summer of 1833 and into 1834 extensive 
work, especially grading and the laying of paths, was done on both 
the north and south grounds. If this work was done according to a 
prepared plan, the plan has been lost. 32 

To the north of the President’s House, a new straight iron railing 
along Pennsylvania Avenue replaced the curving fence built by 


29. Seale, The President's House, 197-98; file on “White House Stables and Garages," 
OC/WH, Aug. 10, 1992. The stable added by Monroe in 1818 to the end and at right 
angles to the west terrace probably lasted until at least 1 853, although it would not have 
served the same function after the Jackson stable was constructed. In an 1853 drawing 
by Thomas U. Walter, this structure appears to have an open front with a colonnade on 
its east side and may have been used for storage. (Thomas U. Walter, drawing of the 
floor plan of the President's House, 1853, Division of Prints and Photographs, Library of 
Congress.) A local builder, William P. Elliot, completed the drawings for the Jackson 
stables. 

30. Seale, The President’s House, 199-200. 

31. The People's Magazine, 1, no. 7 (June 15, 1833). 

32. Large quantities of trees and shrubs were ordered from local nurseries and from the 
famous Prince Nursery and Bloodgood Company, both on Long Island, New York. Robert 
Mills, architect of the new Treasury Building, was brought in to measure walks. Seale, 
The President's House, 200-5. 


51 

Chapter 2. The Shaping of President's Park: 1815-18S0 



The Grounds of the White House 


Monroe in 1819 (see figure 2-1). The two gates and piers were 
moved farther apart, realigning the curving entry drive into a wide 
horseshoe form. In the spring of 1834 grading continued, but there 
was also considerable planting of grass seed and ornamentals. After 
an assassination attempt on Jackson's life at the Capitol on January 
30, 1835, a sentry box was installed on the grounds, but its location 
is unknown. 33 

On the south side of the President's House even greater changes were 
made. Apparently for the first time the south lawn was thoroughly 
graded. The La trobe/ Jefferson road was also leveled and graded, and 
the Jefferson wall remained in place. Descriptions of the property 
during the Jackson administration sometimes identify several trees 
near the arched entrance gate at the southeastern edge of the 
grounds. If these trees were planted, they could have been put in no 
earlier than the Jefferson administration. However, there may have 
been some existing native trees on the grounds at the time the 
President's House was built, possibly including the "great walnut" 
southeast of the building, as described by Latrobe in a letter of April 
29, 1807, to Jefferson. 34 During the Jackson era, two weeping 
willows near the gate were described as "ancient" and presumed to 
date from the colonial period, but weeping willows can grow very 
fast. 35 Tradition dates the two southern magnolias located west of 
the south portico to the Jackson administration, but documentation 
is lacking for a precise planting date. 36 

In the fall of 1834, a hothouse, benches, fences, and trellises were 
built. Some of the trellises were specified for roses, and a long arbor 
was also put in for vines. Maher continued to order numerous trees, 
including sugar maples, elms, oaks, silver-leaf maples, and horse 
chestnuts. On the grounds were also several altheas; some of them 
possibly brought by John Quincy Adams, for this had been a 
favorite plant of his mother, Abigail Adams. 37 In 1835 many more 


S3. Seale, The President's House, 200-5. 

34. Latrobe to Jefferson, Apr. 29, 1807, quoted in Olmsted Brothers, "Report," 64-65. 

35. Seale, The President’s House, 203, note 59. The weeping willow was introduced to 
the United States from China in 1730. See Wyman, Trees for American Gardens, 419-20. 

36. The southern magnolias do not show up clearly in photographs until the Lincoln 
administration, but southern magnolias grow very slowly, particularly when young 
(Information on growing habit of southern magnolias provided by Dale Haney, Office of 
Irvin Williams, The White House, Oct. 24, 1994). 

37. Seale, The President's House, 203-5, notes 62 and 63. Around the turn of the 
century, Abigail Adams planted an allhea ( Hibiscus syriacus) at the family home in 
Quincy, Massachusetts, which John Quincy Adams had to cut down after her death. See 
NPS, Adams National Historic Site, A Family's Legacy to America, by Wilheimina S. Harris 


52 

Part 1: The Evolution of President's Park 



The Grounds of the White House 


plants were purchased, including dwarf tree roses. In 1835 the 
former Treasury vault, then John Quincy Adams's tool shed, was 
turned into an orangery for President Jackson, housing a sago palm 
from Mount Vernon and other plants. While work continued on the 
grounds of the President's House for the remainder of Jackson's 
administration, it appears to have been mostly maintenance, but 
new trees and shrubs were purchased. 38 

John Sessford recorded the progress on the grounds during the 
Jackson era. In 1833 he described the mounds with new walks either 
on, or more likely, around them: 

The improvements made by the United States have been 
considerable. Those around the President's Mansion, as far 
as done, are of a permanent nature; the entrances and lawn 
on the north front being greatly enlarged by the removal of 
the gates farther east and west, connected by an iron 
railing, and the outer circle of the road, and cast iron fancy 
railing around the lawn. This improvement would have 
been better if the gates had been placed opposite the streets 
on the east and west side of the enclosed ground north, 
with proper lodges at each. The walks on the south front, 
and the mounds, are also completed. 3 ’ 

It was during the Jackson administration that the general form of 
the grounds of the President's House took on an appearance like that 
of today, although later changes would modify it. Photographs and 
plans from this period illustrate what is sometimes referred to as the 
"fiddle-shaped" or "bell-shaped" configuration of the south lawn 
that was created by the walks established during the 1830s. Andrew 
Jackson, who admired George Washington, probably patterned this 
arrangement after Mount Vernon, which had a similar "bell-shaped" 
pattern of walks, lawns and flanking gardens. 40 


(Washington, DC, 1983), 50. Shrub althea was introduced into this country from China 
before 1790. See Wyman, Shrubs and Vines, 239-40. 

38. Seale, The President's House, 206-7, notes 64-67. In 1835, $3,828.57 was spent "for 
alterations and repairs of the President's house, for gardener's salary, and for keeping the 
grounds and walks in order, including the cost of trees and shrubs." See Report of the 
Commissioner of Public Buildings, Feb. 4, 1836. An important city map from this period is 
"City of Washington," drawn by Henry S. Tanner in his A New Universal Atlas 
(Philadelphia: H. S. Tanner, 1836). The map unfortunately gives no detail of the internal 
layout of President's Park. Tanner's map is illustrated in Reps, Washington on View, 79. 

39. “The Sessford Annals," 304. 

40. Seale, The President's House, 206, note 66. Mount Vernon is discussed in Norman T. 
Newton, Design on the Land: The Development of Landscape Architecture (Cambridge, MA.: 
Harvard University Press, 1971), 253-57. 


53 

Chapter 2. The Shaping of President's Park: 1815-1850 



The Grounds of the White House 


54 

Part I: The Evolution of President's Park 


The best view of the grounds of the President's House, probably 
dating from the Jackson era, is an engraving illustrated in figure 2- 
3. Unfortunately it presents many problems since it went through 
numerous editions, often with small changes in content and com- 
position, from at least 1829 through 1833. Furthermore, an elab- 
orate ornamental garden appears in the foreground (southwest) part 
of the south grounds, when it is well documented that such a garden 
was located at the opposite end (southeast). It has been suggested 
that this engraving was made from a reverse print of a daguerreo- 
type. 41 The engraving is illustrated here, because, despite these prob- 
lems, it gives an excellent sense of the grounds immediately south of 
the President's House during the Jackson era. 

In March 1837 Martin Van Buren became president. Like John 
Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson, he was interested in horti- 
culture. While ambassador to England in 1831, he had visited 
English gardens with Washington Irving. 42 He continued the type of 
improvements John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson had begun, 
and he retained both Maher and OusJey. 43 At the end of 1837 it was 
reported that "the grounds at the Capitol and the President's house 
have been faithfully attended to by the public gardener; and choice 
trees and shrubs, selected with care from the most celebrated nur- 
series, have been planted under his direction." New fruit trees were 
added in the orangery. The lawns were regularly rolled and watered, 
and paths were graveled. Cast-iron benches and settees were also 
purchased, including circular benches around some of the trees. 44 

As Van Buren sought a second term in 1840, his love of fine living 
made him the object of attack, led by Congressman Charles Ogle of 
Pennsylvania. Ogle ridiculed every expenditure made at the Presi- 
dent's House, comparing it to Versailles and some of the royal 
palaces of England. Ogle singled out the grounds for special attack, 
enumerating the more sinister sounding of the flowers: "false fox 
glove, enchanter's nightshade, dragon's head, lizard's tail, adder's 
tongue, monkey flower, and touch-me-not." He observed that one 
grounds employee was paid to do nothing more than "pick up falling 
leaves." 45 Among Ogle's accusations was that Van Buren had been 


41 . Seale, The White House, 82. The engraving was published in The People's Magazine 1, 
no. 7 (June 15, 1883). See also the memo by Bernard Reiley (curator, Div. of Prints and 
Photographs, Library of Congress), Mar. 29, 1979, OC/WH. 

42. NPS, "The President's Garden," 20. 

43. Seale, The President's House, 21 7. 

44. Seale, The President's Nouse, 2 1 7. 

45. Seale, The President's House, 223; chapter 9, note 1 1 . 



"constructing fountains, paving footways, planting, transplanting, 
pruning, and dressing horse chestnuts, lindens, Norway spruce and 
Balm of Gilead."'’ 6 


The Grounds of the White House 


William Henry Harrison was inaugurated in March 1841 but died 
only a month later, when John Tyler assumed the office of president. 
Little is recorded in the way of landscape improvements during 
Tyler's administration.' 17 Tyler initiated the practice of Marine Band 
concerts on the south lawn. Initially the band played on the south 
portico, and the public sat on the south lawn. The grounds were 
open for visitation during Saturday evenings in the summer. 48 

In 1842 Charles Dickens visited the President's House and observed: 

The President's mansion is more like an English club-house, 
both within and without, than any other establishment 
with which I can compare it. The ornamental ground about 
it has been laid out in garden walks; they are pretty, and 
agreeable to the eye; though they have that uncomfortable 
air of having been made yesterday, which is far from 
favorable to the display of such beauties . 49 

Early in the Tyler administration (1841), public architect Robert 
Mills put forward a major planning proposal. Mills designed a build- 
ing for the National Institution for the Promotion of Science, what is 
now known as the Smithsonian Institution, and also planned a 
botanical garden on the Mall between 7th and 12th Streets. He 
expanded this project into a comprehensive landscape design for the 


46. Quoted in NPS, "The President's Garden," 21. The 1838^10 annual reports of the 
commissioner of public buildings appear to be missing. Under 1841, there is listed only a 
memorial about macadamizing Pennsylvania Avenue, dated Jan. 20, 1 840. 

47. An expenditure of $2,544.69 was reported in 1842 "for annual repairs of the 
President's house, gardener's salary, cartage, laborers, tools, and top dressing for plants,” 
for repairs of the fence on Pennsylvania Avenue and the "President's garden” and for 
repair of flag footways at the Capitol and the President's House. See Annual Report, 
Commissioner of Public Buildings, Jan. 12, 1843, 1-2. For the 18 months preceding June 
30, 1844, $2,377.78 was expended "for annual repairs of the President's House, garden- 
er's salary, etc.” In addition, flag footways were still being repaired. See Annual Report, 
Commissioner of Public Buildings, Jan. 8, 1844, 2. Tyler was also unpopular with Con- 
gress, another possible reason for the relative lack of landscape work during his term. 

48. NPS, "The President’s Garden,” 23; Seale, The President's House, 243; Elise K. Kirk, 
Music at the White House: A History of the American Spirit (Urbana: University of Illinois 
Press, 1986), 56. 

49. Charles Dickens, American Notes (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1985), 112. 


55 

Chapter 2. The Shaping of President's Park: 1815-1850 



The Grounds of the White House 


Mall, including the grounds of the Capitol and the Washington 
Monument but excluded President's Park. 50 

James Polk became president in 1845. During his one-term presi- 
dency, John Ousley and Jemmy Maher immaculately maintained the 
grounds. Maher remained gardener of all the public grounds and 
continued to be in charge of larger projects, while Ousley tended to 
fine gardening, caring for the plants in the cold frames and orangery, 
raking gravel walks, and other such tasks. By this time the trees that 
Ousley and John Quincy Adams had planted were substantial, but 
still not large. The grass on the lawns was allowed to grow until a 
local livery stable keeper could scythe it. A farmer then drove in 
sheep, which cropped it close. After that, Ousley flattened the lawn 
with the roller. Flower and vegetable gardens were planted south of 
the President's House and were neatly fenced. Ousley raised about 
TOO varieties of roses, some of which grew over the long arbor or 
were trained over trellises. Traces of this "old garden," with its 
typically mid 19th century plantings, furnishings, and landscape 
effects, lasted until about 1859. 51 

Polk's presidency coincided with the first widespread use of photog- 
raphy, in the form of the daguerreotype. An important early photo- 
graph probably dating from the Polk administration is illustrated in 
figure 2-4. Taken by John Plumbe about 1846, it shows the south 
side of the President's House with the neatly maintained grounds 
described in the commissioners' annual reports. Taken apparently in 
winter or early spring (there is a bit of snow on the grounds), the 
daguerreotype shows newly planted trees and shrubs near the 
foundation of the building. Not visible, however, are the Jackson 
magnolias, although the spot where they would be located can be 
clearly seen. One trellis also appears, to the far left. 

In 1848 a new iron fence was built on the north side of the 
President's House and painted. At the northeast and northwest cor- 
ners interior gates were constructed to control access to the south 


50. Scott, "'This Vast Empire,'" 48-53; Cynthia R. Field, Richard E. Stamm, and 
Heather P. Ewing, The Castle: An Illustrated History of the Smithsonian Building 
(Washington, DC: SmiLhsonian Institution Press, 1993), 4—8. 

51 . Scale, The President's House, 269-72, note 41 cites commissioners' vouchers, etc. The 
1845-49 annual reports of the commissioner of public buildings provide only the total 
figures for "repairs to the President's house," and such very general statements as, "The 
public grounds at the capitol and President's house have been kept in good order by the 
public gardener and the hands under him" (Annual Report, Commissioner of Public 
Buildings, Jan. 8, 1846, 3). See also Annual Report, Commissioner of Public Buildings and 
Grounds, Jan. 16, 1849, 2. The long arbor was in the flower garden, probably on the 
southwest side of the house. 


56 

Part 1: The Evolution of President's Park 



grounds. 52 The same year a bronze statue of Thomas Jefferson by 
sculptor Pierre-Jean David d'Angers was moved from the grounds of 
the Capitol to the center of the lawn at the north side of the 
President's House and was enclosed by a small circular path. 55 An 
1848 lithograph from the north side of Pennsylvania Avenue (figure 
2-5) shows this statue and also several small trees at the front of the 
President's House. Wrought iron oil lamps were the norm until 1848 
when gas lighting was introduced. The 1848 lithograph (figure 2-5) 
shows the first gas streetlights along Pennsylvania Avenue. 51 

Zachary Taylor became president in 1849 but died in July 1850; 
Millard Fillmore succeeded him. 55 During this period apparently no 
important landscaping changes were made except for the installation 
of gaslights. Even though Robert Mills had documented to Congress 
in 1840 that carbureted hydrogen gas was safer, more manageable, 
and more economical than oil. Congress waited until 1848 to pur- 
chase lampposts. At the President's House, contractors installed 
gaslights both inside and out. By January 22, 1848, 76 lamps 
lighted the way from the President’s House to the Capitol, and 42 
more lamps lighted the Capitol grounds. Officials expanded the sys- 
tem to 1 76 lamps. Commissioner Ignatius Mudd reported that gas 
lighting for the President's House and Pennsylvania Avenue had been 
completed and had been operating since June 1849. Lampposts were 
located erratically in front of federal buildings until after the Civil 
War, when Alexander Shepherd instituted a lighting program. 56 

In 1850 Fredrika Bremer, a Swedish novelist and friend of A. J. 
Downing, visited Washington and recorded her impressions of the 
city. On July 1, 1850, she visited the President's House: 

In the afternoon, the senator from New Hampshire took 
Miss Lynch and myself to the White House, the residence of 
the president, General Taylor, just outside the city. There in 
the park, every Saturday afternoon, is military music, and 


52. Expenditures listed under the appropriation for annual repairs to the President's 
House from Jan. 12. 1848, to Jan. 8, 1849, Stanley McClure Files, ESF/WH17NPS. 
Information on the inside gates courtesy of Krause (E5F/WHL/NPS). 

53. Seale, The White House, 105. 

54. The lights apparently were installed during 1848-49. See Annual Report , 
Commissioner of Public Buildings, 1849, Jan. 21, 1850, Ex. Doc. no. 30, 14. 

55. Seale, The President's House, 278-89 

56. Annual Report, Commissioner of Public Buildings, 1851 , 11; Sarah Pressey Noreen, 
Public Street Illumination in Washington, D.C.: An Illustrated History, GW Washington 
Studies, no. 2 (1975), 15-18. At this time Shepherd was the commissioner of public 
works for the city of Washington. U. S. Grant would later appoint him territorial 
governor of the city. Information from Krause (ESF/WHL/NP5). 


The Grounds of the White House 


57 

Chapter 2. The Shaping of President's Park: 1815-1850 



Lafayette Square 


the people walk at pleasure. The president was out among 
the crowd. I was introduced to him, and we shook hands. 
He is kind and agreeable. 57 


Lafayette Square 

After the War of 1812 new buildings were erected around the still 
undesignated Lafayette Square. St. John's Church, based on designs 
by Latrobe, was constructed in 1815-16 on the corner of 16th and H 
Streets. An 1816 perspective sketch of the church by Latrobe (figure 
2-6) shows a distant view of the burnt-out President's House and the 
absolutely unadorned expanse between the two. In 1817 Latrobe also 
designed a house for Stephen Decatur on Lafayette Square, which 
was completed about two years later. 56 (An 1 822 painting of Decatur 
House by Mme. E. Vaile is illustrated in figure 2-7.) While Congress 
appropriated funds in 1819 to open 16-1/2 Street, later Jackson 
Place, only a narrow dirt road appears in this painting. 

On April 30, 1818, Congress appropriated $10,000.00 for 

"Graduating and Improving the President's Square," and by June 
workers were busy clearing the land with hoes, shovels, and 
pushcarts. Charles Bulfinch, who received $25.00 for a plan for 
improving the square, first turned his attention to grading, as the 
site varied dramatically in level. 59 Although Bulfmch's plan has not 
survived, enough evidence exists to describe the design in general 
terms — a plantation of alternating elms and red cedars planted close 
together and forming allees. 


57. Fredrika Bremer, America of the Fifties: Letters of Fredrika Bremer, selected and edited 
by Adolph B. Benson (New York: The American Scandinavian Foundation, 1924), 
1 71-72. Bremer had attended debates in Congress, which may account for tier describing 
the White House as "outside the city." A later translation of Bremer's letters may be re- 
sponsible for the use of the term "White House.’’ 

58. Bremer, America of the Fifties, 160-61. 

59. In 1824 an account of expenditures between 1818 and 1821 was issued. Most of 
the 1818 work must have been grading, because the targest expenditures ($1,537.55 in 
September, for example) were for laborers' pay and carts. Beginning in September 1818 
Charles Bizet was paid quarterly as a gardener at the rate of $450.00 per year. Except for 
orchard grass seed in 1820 and clover seed in 1821, nothing was spent for plants. 
"Message from the President of the United States Transmitting an Account of the 
Disbursement of the Sums Appropriated by the Acts of 30th April 1818 and 3rd March 
1819 for Improving the President's Square, etc.," Apr. 20, 1824. Abstracts are included of 
disbursements made by Samuel Lane for grading and improving President’s Square 
between 1818 and 1821. In addition to these abstracts, Seale (The President's House, 168, 
note 13) cites field notes by F. C, DeKrafft, plus numerous warrants and bills that indicate 
the site was poorly drained and full of mudholes and gullies. 


58 


PART I: THE EVOLUTION OF PRFJIDENT'S PARK 



Lafayette Square 


By January 1820 work was underway on improving the square 
according to the Bulfinch plan. It was anticipated that considerably 
more money would be required to complete the work, but a further 
appropriation was not recommended. 60 In Madame E. Vaile's 1822 
painting (figure 2-7), little is visible in the way of improvements to 
the park, except for a narrow, beaten dirt path. 

Bulfinch based his plan on the concept that the cedars would grow 
fast; by the time the elms reached maturity the cedars would be large 
and old trees that would be cut down, allowing the elms sufficient 
room to grow. 61 The park was kept dosed most of the time in the 
first years, but as the cedars grew, paths were cleared. There might 
have been a post-and-chain fence all around the square for a while, 
but it did not deter the livestock that ran free or the people who took 
shortcuts across the park in several places. 

In 1 824 the Marquis de Lafayette visited Washington, an event that 
is generally credited with spurring improvements to the grounds. 62 
That was the year when Pennsylvania Avenue was formally 
extended in front of the President's House, probably leading to a 
redesign of part of Lafayette Square. 63 Sessford provides some 
information about Lafayette Square during this period. In 1826 he 
wrote that the square north of the President's House was nearly 
leveled and enclosed, but "the view of the President's House is still 
obstructed by unsightly frame sheds and stables, which ought to be 
removed, as unsightly to the eye and offensive to the senses ." M In 


60. "Report of the Committee on So Much of the President's Message as Relates to the 
Public Buildings, January 6, 1320," in Report, Commissioner of Public Buildings, Nov. 27, 
1820, 2-3. Commissioners' reports indicate that Bulfinch's plan, now lost, was not fully 
carried out in 1820 for lack of funds. There is no way to tell from the financial records 
alone whether the post-1824 expenditures were used for a belated realization of his plan. 

61 . Seale, "The Design of Lafayette Park," 10. 

62. NP5, Lafayette Park, 7. 

63. Apparently early attempts to formalize Pennsylvania Avenue can be dated to 1800, 
when stone debris from construction of the Capitol and perhaps the White House began 
to be used to pave Pennsylvania Avenue; see Bob Arnebeck, Through a Fiery Trial: Building 
Washington, 1790-1800 (Lanham, MD: Madison Books), 566, 573, 582, cited in NPS, 
"Archeological Evaluation," 23. The yearly financial records indicate that money was 
spent on Lafayette Square only between 1818 and 1821, in 1827, and in 1832-33. The 
annual report of the commissioner of public buildings for 1825 appears to be missing, 
but in February 1825 an appropriation of another $5,000.00 is recorded, again for 
"graduating and improving the President's Square, Report, Commissioner of Public Buildings, 
March 22, 1826. At the end of 1827, $2,891.92 of this amount had been expended, but 
the work done is not specified. Report, Commissioner of Public Buildings, Dec. 31, 1827. Scott 
and Lee, Buildings of the District of Columbia, 1 58 . 

64 "The Sessford Annals," 284. 


59 

Chapter 2. The Shaping of President's Park: 1815-1850 



Lafayette Square 1827 he reported that the square was completely enclosed with a 

fence and "paved around it." 65 

It is difficult to reconstruct with certainty the development of 
Lafayette Square between 1818 and 1833. 66 It was likely fenced 
about 1 826 with a simple split-rail fence of the type used south of 
the President's House at this time (see figure 2-2). In 1837 Robert 
Mills, the public architect, proposed enclosing it with "an iron railing 
of suitable dimensions" with a granite curb and two gateways, but 
the wooden fence remained until 1845. In 1836 Alexander Jackson 
Davis sketched a proposed office building in the center of Lafayette 
Square. 67 

There seems to be no clear visual representation of the whole area 
until about 1845-50, when an isometric view of the President's 
House, grounds, surroundings and public buildings was published 
(figure 2-8). 68 In this unsigned lithograph the site appears as a simple 
rectangle planted with grass and surrounded by a double row of 
trees. Down the center are two more double rows of trees along the 
line of 16th Street, although the street does not cut through the 
park. Other than this broad alley, there are no internal paths in the 
park, not even the one shown on the Vaile painting. 

In 1845 a program was initiated to improve many of the "streets, 
avenues, and public reservations" in the city of Washington. The 
reservations designated were "Lafayette square, the reservation south 
of the President's mansion, Fountain square, the mall, and the vacant 
ground adjoining the capitol." In 1845, as part of this program, an 
estimate was given to enclose Lafayette Square with posts and 


65. "The Scssford Annais," 287. 

66. No expenditures on Lafayette Square are recorded in 1828 or 1829. The report for 
1831 is again missing, but on December 13, 1832, Commissioner Joseph Elgar reported 
an expenditure of $3,000.00 on the improvement of the President's Square out of an 
appropriation of the previous session. Again, the work is not specified. Report, 
Commissioner of Public Buildings, Dec. 13, 1832, 1, In 1833 an expenditure of $14,660.00 
was recorded for President's Square. Although a brief report follows describing 
improvements to the Capitol and President's House, there is no explanation of what was 
done with the money spent for the square. Report, Commissioner of Public Buildings, Dec. 20, 
1833,1. 

67. Seale, "The Design of Lafayette Park, "11. 

68. The isometric view was dated as ca. 1 845 in the Olmsted Brothers report and in many 
later publications. Since at least 1991, a date of ca. 1857 has been given to the view. See 
John Guidas, The White House: Resources for Research at the Library of Congress (Washington, 
DC: Library of Congress, 1992), figure 10, page 43; and also the file on the "Mounds on the 
South Ground," OC/WH, WGA, Mar. 19, 1991. This date seems problematical, since the 
isometric view does not reflect the 1851 Downing plan, and it does not indicate the Andrew 
Jackson equestrian statue, erected in 1853. 


60 

Part 1: The Evolution of President's Park 



wooden railings "of the best materials," possibly to replace the 
existing rail fence built in 1826-27. 69 


President's Park South 

Between 1815 and 1851, the area now known as the Ellipse was still 
not defined as a distinct space. In 1815, the Washington Canal, 
which had been proposed by L'Enfant in 1792 to replace Tiber Creek, 
was opened after years of construction. However, it never attracted 
the expected commercial traffic and gradually stagnated. 70 

In the 1845 annual report the commissioner of public buildings 
noted that work was underway for "enclosing reservation south of 
the President's house with posts and railing of wood of the best 
material." 71 This is probably a reference to the Ellipse, and in partic- 
ular the white picket fence that surrounded the unimproved 
common. That same year Commissioner of Public Buildings William 
Noland reported that it was intended that the reservation south of 
the President's House and the Mall should be enclosed and planted 
with ornamental shade trees. He added that gravel walks and 
carriageways should be completed to allow people to exercise on 
foot, on horseback, or in carriages for their health and recreation. 71 

At the end of 1848 Commissioner of Public Buildings Charles 
Douglas noted that the improvements being made on the public 
grounds south of the President's House were successfully progres- 
sing. He hoped that when finished they would meet the approval of 
Congress and the citizens of Washington. He went on to add. 

After the necessary observations were made upon these 
grounds, the plan of terracing them was preferred to the in- 
clined plane — it being most economical, best adapted to 
their shape and condition and best calculated to beautify 
them. The low ground will be reached by two terraces, each 
fifteen hundred and eighty feet long, four feet high, and 
seventy feet wide from bank to bank. From the foot of the 


69. [Annual] Report , Commissioner of Public buildings, Dec. 12, 1845, 2. The cost for 
enclosing Lafayette Square was $803.60. See also NPS, Administrative History, 124-25. 

70. Reps, Monumental Washington, 29. 

71. I Annual ) Report, Commissioner of Public Buddings, Dec. 12, 1845, 2. The cost was 
$2,235.80. 

72 Seale, The President's House, 2 79. 


President's Park South 


61 

Chapter 2. The Shaping of President's Park: 1 815-1850 



President's Park South 


second terrace to the surface of the low ground the earth 
will be gently sloped. 

Fifteenth Street on the east, and Seventeenth Street on the 
west of these grounds, will be graded to their full width, 
and the grounds fenced as soon as the embankments have 
been completed, and are sufficiently settled to firmly sustain 
the fence posts. 73 

What Douglas seems to have had in mind for the south grounds was 
something very similar to the terraces indicated on L'Enfant's 1791 
plan but shown most clearly on a detail from the 1792 EHicott plan 
(figure l-4). M The terraces under construction in 1848 were probably 
located in what later became the southern enlargement of the 
grounds of the President's House (upper south lawn), not in what 
today is the Ellipse. 75 

Douglas's proposal was not just concerned with aesthetics. It also 
aimed to eliminate the unhealthy surroundings of Presidents' Park 
due to lack of good drainage along Tiber Creek. Congress appropri- 
ated the money and work was begun at once. 76 

At the end of 1849, Ignatius Mudd, the new commissioner of public 
buildings, reported: 

The unoccupied ground . . . lying between the south wall of 
the President's enclosures and the Washington canal, con- 
tains about forty-nine acres, a portion of which presents an 
irregular, uneven surface. The last Congress made an 
appropriation for 'grading, enclosing, and planting it with 
trees'; and considerable progress had been made in the work 
of grading by my predecessor when I entered upon the 
duties of this office. The greater part of the appropriation 
was thereby exhausted, so that 1 was only able, with the 
means which came into my hands, to make such gradings 
around the marginal lines as were necessary to its being 
enclosed. 1 also planted it with trees, so far as was deemed 


73. Annual Report, Commissioner of Public Buildings and Grounds, Jan. 8, 1849, 9, 

74. Seale, The President's House, 279. 

75. Information courtesy of John Pousson (NPS). 

76 It is possible that the city’s primitive water and sanitation system was partially 
responsible for the health problems affecting the occupants of the White House — 
President James Polk died a few months after leaving the White House, President Zachary 
Taylor probably died of cholera, and President Franklin Pierce came down with malaria 
during his term, McEwan, White House Landscapes, 121, 124 


62 

Part 1: The Evolution of President's Park 



expedient, in advance of the grading yet required to he 
done.” 

As Mudd noted, the existing system of sewerage at the south 

grounds was inadequate: 

To facilitate and perfect these improvements, as the appro- 
priation referred to indicates they should be made, it will be 
necessary to increase the sewerage by which waste water is 
conducted from the President's house and the adjacent 
public buildings. These sewers now discharge from their 
present terminus all the water, to stagnate upon the surface 
of, or render marshy 'the grounds lying south of the 
President's house.' To extend them to the Washington 
canal, and to cut down a part of Seventeenth street to its 
proper level, becomes, therefore, a work indispensable in 
connexion [sic J with the improvement of the southern 
portion of President's square. The sum requisite for these 
objects is included in the estimates with which I furnished 
the Treasury Department, and will, I trust, obtain the 
favorable consideration of Congress . 78 


The Grounds of the State and Treasury Buildings 

In 1816 the rebuilding of the two damaged executive office buildings 
began. James Hoban supervised the repairs and reconstruction and 
added some architectural embellishments of his own. The structure 
of these brick buildings was still sound, but repairs were so hasty 
that the scars from the fire were simply painted over in red with 
white painted lines to simulate brick and mortar. In 1818 Monroe 
added two more buildings, one in front of each of the two existing 
ones: a new State Department building in front of the Treasury and a 
new War Department building in front of the Navy Department. 
Each of the four buildings had a great portico of Aquia stone, two 
facing north and two facing south. 79 The effect of this group can be 
seen in the Baroness Hyde de Neuville's 1820 watercolor (figure 2-1). 

In 1833 the Treasury Building, with the exception of Latrobe's fire- 
proof vault, was destroyed by fire. Robert Mills was asked to write a 


77. Annual Report, Commissioner of Public Buildings, Jan. 24, 1 850, 6. 

78. Annual Report, Commissioner of Public Buildings, Jan. 24, 1 850, 6. 

79. Report of James Hoban, in Report, Commissioner of Public Buildings, Dec. 23, 1819, 
6-7; "Report of the Committee on So Much of the President's Message as Relates to the 
Public Buildings, January 6, 1820," in Report, Commissioner of Public Buildings, Dec. 27, 
1 820, 2-3; Seale, The President's House, 151. 


The Grounds of the State and 
Treasury Buildings 


63 

Chapter 2. The Shaping of President's Park: 1815-1850 



The Grounds of the War and 
Navy Buildings 


report on the fire damage and was eventually retained to design a 
new Treasury Building on a site selected by President Andrew 
Jackson. 80 Mills's winning competition design was for an E-shaped 
building with its spine along 15th Street and three porticoed wings 
facing the White House. Construction on the new Treasury Building 
did not get underway until 1836, when the foundations of the build- 
ing were complete and part of the front range of rooms was begun. 81 
Construction continued in 1837, but there was difficulty in obtain- 
ing materials. 82 By the end of 1842 the colonnaded east front along 
15th Street and the central wing had been completed. No visual 
documentation survives for this period, but a lithograph from the 
1 860s provides a good illustration of the south and east sides of the 
building (see figure 2-9). 

The Treasury Building is remarkable for its early use of fireproof 
construction, a technique that Mills had pioneered in a records build- 
ing (now the Fireproof Building) in Charleston, South Carolina. 83 The 
isometric view dated ca. 1845-50 (see figure 2-8) shows the 
Treasury as if completed with a suggested landscape treatment. Ulti- 
mately, the entire Treasury complex would be built in four stages 
between 1836 and 1869. Mills's design for the Treasury has been 
frequently criticized because it blocked the view of the White House 
along Pennsylvania Avenue from the Capitol. 


The Grounds of the War and Navy Buildings 

The War Building, which was reconstructed after the fire in 1814, 
and the new Navy Building lasted longer than the State and Treasury 
Buildings. Robert Mills prepared plans for a proposed new War and 
Navy complex, and a competition was held in 1845^16. Among the 
entrants in the competition in addition to Mills were the distin- 
guished architects William Strickland, Ammi B. Young, John 
Notman, and Isaiah Rogers. However, the outbreak of the Mexican 


80. The most complete architectural analysis of Mills's Treasury Building is found in 
William H. Pierson Jr., American Buildings and Their Architects: The Colonial and Neoclassical 
Styles (Garden City, NY: Doubleday and Company, Inc,, 1970), 404—17. See also Scott and 
Lee, Buildings of the District of Columbia, 154-57; Seale, The President's House, 207-8. 

81 . Robert Mills, "Report," in Report, Commissioner of Public Buildings, Dec. 8, 1836. 

82. Robert Mills, "Report," in Report, Commissioner of Public Buildings, Dec. 15, 1837, 3-6. 

83. Scott and Lee, Buildings of the District of Columbia, 154—55. 


64 

Part 1: The Evolution of President's Park 



War kept any of these competition plans from being realized, and the 
two early brick buildings remained for almost three more decades. 8 " 1 

The ca. 1845-50 isometric view shows a proposed new War and 
Navy complex identical to the Treasury, with the same kind of 
landscape treatment (see figure 2-8). It is probable that this 
illustration was related in some way to the 1845-46 competition for 
a new War and Navy complex. There is little information about the 
actual landscaping of these buildings between 1815 and 1851. One 
exception is a genera] description of the grounds of the War and 
Navy Buildings, along with those of the State Building on the east, 
found in an 1850 guidebook: 

State Department, War Department, and Navy Department 
are but ordinary brick buildings, two stories above the 
basement, which is built of freestone, fire proof; the 
dimensions of each building are nearly the same, that of the 
War Department being 130 feet long by 60 wide. The War 
and State both have a portico, facing north, of the ionic 
order. In each there is also a hall running the whole length 
of the buildings, having offices on each side for the 
accommodation of Clerks of the several Departments, and 
are all located near the President's house, and surrounded 
by neat iron fences, the grounds of which are ornamented 
with numerous shade trees. 45 


Summary 


Summary 

The period between 1815 and 1850 witnessed important develop- 
ments in the evolution of the landscape of President’s Park. The 
buildings destroyed by the British in 1814 were reconstructed. 
President John Quincy Adams set an important precedent by treating 
the grounds of the President's House as a kind of arboretum of 
American trees and plants. During the presidency of Andrew Jackson 
extensive work, particularly grading, laying of paths, and realigning 
drives, was completed both on the north and south grounds, and 


84. Dolkart, The Old Executive Office Building, note 1 1; Donald J. Lehman, Executive Office 
Building, Historical Study No. 3 (Washington, DC: General Services Administration, 
1970), 9-18. Robert Mills's diaries include sketches for a new War and Navy complex, 
which show that he began thinking about such a project some years before his first 
official proposal and the competition. See Robert Mills, "1834-1840 Journal," Robert 
Mills Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress. See also John Bryan, ed., Robert 
Mills, Architect (Washington, DC: The American Institute of Architects Press, 1989), 184. 

85. E. S. Streeter, comp., The Stranger's Guide, or the Daguerreotype of Washington, D C. 
(Washington, DC: C. Alexander, Printer, 1850), 22-23. 


65 

Chapter 2. The Shaping of President's Park: 1815-1850 



Summary 


large quantities of trees and shrubs were planted. President Van 
Buren continued the improvements began by John Quincy Adams 
and Andrew Jackson. The grounds of the President's House began to 
assume an appearance still recognizable today. Improvements in- 
cluded lighting the grounds, first with oil lamps and by the late 
1840s with gaslights. Ornamental anthemion fences were installed 
on the north grounds between the columns in the north portico, 
lining the southern edge of the carriageway, and serving as a parapet 
on both sides of the north portico to prevent possible falls. 

At this time commemoration began to influence the evolution of the 
landscape with the relocation of the Thomas Jefferson statue from 
the Capitol to the center of the lawn on the north grounds of the 
White House. The need for increased security became evident with 
the installation of a sentry box on the White House grounds. 

Important new buildings were being erected around Lafayette Park, 
but a landscape plan by Charles Bulfinch was apparently only 
partially executed. Preliminary construction work, such as filling 
and grading, was also underway in the area now known as the 
Ellipse, but it was not until the second half of the 1 9th century that 
these last two components of President's Park would be fully 
developed. 

President's Park continued to attract talented designers. Charles 
Bulfinch, Robert Mills, and Paulus Hedl developed distinctive features 
that have characterized the site for many years. Bulfinch's gate- 
houses still stand today. Mills's design of the Treasury complex and 
its fireproof construction were remarkable. The Hedl fence was 
removed in the 1970s and replaced with a sturdier one of the same 
design. 

The reconstruction of the State and Treasury Buildings was hastily 
done. Scars from the fire the British had set were simply painted over 
to simulate brick and mortar. During the Monroe presidency two 
buildings were added — a new State Department in front of the 
Treasury and a new War Department in front of the Navy 
Department. In 1833 the Treasury Building was destroyed by fire. 
Robert Mills designed the new Treasury Building. Construction, 
however, did not get underway until 1836 and was not finished 
until 1869. 


66 

Part 1: The Evolution of President's Park 




Figure 2-1: Washington City. Baroness Hyde de Neuville (watcrcolor), June 1821; F-squisse en 1820 (sketched in 1820). The 
Phelps Stokes Collection, The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Arl, Prints, and Photography, The New York Public 
Library, Astor, Lenox, and Tildcn Foundation. 


67 

Chapter 2: The Shaping of President 's Park I SIS- 1 850 







Figure 2-2: View of the President's House from the Southwest. Anthony St. John Baker (watercolor), 1826. Huntington 
Library, San Marino, California 


68 

Part 1: The Evolution of President's Park 






69 

Chapter 2: The Shaping of President 's Park 1815 1 850 








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and Photographs Division. 



70 

Part I: Tut Evolution of Prlsidlnt's Park 









Figure 2-5: The President's House. Augustus Kollner (lithograph), 1848. Drawn from Nature by Augustus Kollncr; litho- 
graph by Isidorc-Laurent Deroy; published by Goupil, Vihcrt and Company. New York. 



71 

Chapter 2: The Shaping of President's Park: 1815-1850 




Figure 2-6: St. John's I Church I and the Neighboring White House. Benjamin Henry Latrobc (watcrcolor, ink, and pencil on 
paper), 1816. St. John's Church, Washington, D.C 


Part 1: Thf. Evouition of pRFSir>Fj>rr's Park 





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Figure 2-7: Matson du Commodore Stephen Decatur (House of Commodore Decatur). Madame E. Vailc (painting), 1822. Decatur 
House Collection 



73 

Chapter 2: The Shaping of President's rark: 1815-1850 









Figure 2 9: U. S. Trv,isury. Lithograph, ca. 1863-67. Printed by Sachse & Co. 
library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division. 


Baltimore; published by C. Bohn, Washington 



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75 

Chapter 2: The Shaping of President's Kirk: 1815-1850 







Chapter 3. President's Park and the 
Influence of the Downing Plan: 1851-1865 


T he years between 1851 and 1865 were difficult for the 
United States. The impending secession crisis and the 
eventual conflict between the North and South greatly 
affected the outlook of the nation and the evolution of the 
landscape at President's Park. The important role that presidents had 
played up to that time in influencing the evolution of the landscape 
diminished. However, the health, privacy, and safety of the president 
and the first family continued to be an important consideration in 
making modifications to the grounds. The most substantive land- 
scape changes involved fencing and massive plantings. Alterations 
and additions, such as the new stables or the conservatory, were 
relatively small. 1 

Andrew Jackson Downing's plan for the public grounds of 
Washington prepared in 1851 greatly influenced development during 
this period. It was the first plan for a large-scale public park in the 
United States. His untimely death precluded him from developing a 
detailed plan for the White House grounds, but some of his ideas are 
still evident in Lafayette Square, and to a lesser degree in the Ellipse. 
In general, his landscape designs have not fared well, and Lafayette 
Park and the Ellipse, both of which have since been redesigned, may 
be the only Downing landscapes that survive in any condition. 2 It 
has been argued that Downing's picturesque plan for Washington 
was inappropriate and revealed a profound misunderstanding of the 
ideas of L'Enfant for the capital. 


1. The commissioners of public buildings in these years were Ignatius Mudd 
(1849-51), William Easby (1851-53), Benjamin B. French (1853-55), John B. Blake 
(1855—61), William S, Wood (1861), and Benjamin B. French (1861—67). Dowd, Records 
of Public Buildings and Public Parks, 30. 

2. Claims are frequently made that Springside, the Matthew Vassar estate in Pough- 
keepsie, New York, was designed by Downing, but there is no evidence that Downing did 
anything more than make suggestions to Vassar. (Information courtesy of George 
Tatum.) See Harvey K. Flad, "Matthew Vassar's Springside: The Hand of Art, when 
Guided by Taste,’" in Prophet with Honor: The Career of Andrew Jackson Downing, 1815- 
1852, ed. George B. Tatum and Elisabeth Blair MacDougall (Washington, DC: The 
Athenaeum of Philadelphia and Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, 1989), 
219-57. For Downing's landscape commissions and their relationsliip to the evolution of 
English and American landscape design, see Tatum, "Nature's Gardener," in Prophet with 
Honor, ed. Tatum and MacDougall, 43-80. 


77 

Chapter 3. President's Park and the Influence of the Downing Plan: 1 S5J-J865 



The Downing Plan 


78 

Part 1: The Evolution of President’s Park 


In his writings Downing acknowledged the need to provide privacy 
for the first family. Although he allowed for a degree of public use of 
the White House grounds, he proposed that the gate allowing access 
to the current upper south lawn be open only during reception days, 
making the "President's grounds on this side of the house private at 
other times." He also recommended plantings to afford more privacy 
for the president's family. Downing was a strong advocate of the 
public use of President's Park, He planned for the Ellipse to be used 
for public festivities and celebrations, and his design provided pedes- 
trians the opportunity to enjoy an "agreeable shaded promenade." 

However, the grounds of the President's House continued to be open 
to the public on Saturday evenings in the summer, with the Marine 
Band providing musical entertainment. Modifications to the grounds 
were rather limited during this period. A fence and two gates were 
installed on the north grounds, probably in the early 1850s. 

Commemoration began in earnest with the unveiling of the Andrew 
Jackson statue in Lafayette Square in 1853. The square was laid out 
according to a Downing plan that apparently has not survived. In 
1853 gaslights were also installed in the square. During this period 
the Ellipse underwent extensive development, and by the 1850s was 
planted following Downing's design. During the Civil War the site 
was occupied by barracks and used to graze cattle. Presumably, most 
of the landscape improvements were destroyed. 

Substantial progress was also made on the construction of the 
Treasury Building, and although it would not be completed until 
1869, landscape plans were made public. 


The Downing Plan 

A Biography of Andrew Jackson Downing 

Andrew Jackson Downing was born on October 31, 1815, the fifth 
and last child of Samuel Downing, owner of a nursery in Newburgh, 
New York, and Eunice Bridge Downing. As a youth. Downing 
studied at an academy in nearby Montgomery, New York, and then 
joined his brother Charles in the nursery that their father had 
bequeathed to them. After his marriage to Caroline De Wint in 1838, 



Downing built his own home in Newburgh and established a model 
garden on the grounds. 1 


The Downing Plan 


Downing's Career 

There were three different aspects to Downing's career: the nursery 
business; horticultural, landscape and architectural writing; and 
landscape design. Although he took these activities up more or less in 
succession, each one grew logically out of the preceding interest, and 
frequently they overlapped. Writing was perhaps the most consis- 
tent activity in his career. Except for the garden of his own 
Newburgh house, most of Downing's known landscape designs date 
from the last part of his brief life. Earlier commissions tend to be 
documented only through brief references.'’ 

In summer 1850 Downing left for England, hoping to find someone 
with professional experience with whom to set up an architectural 
office in Newburgh. Downing found his partner, the 26-year-old 
architect Calvert Vaux, in London. While Vaux's role was as an 
architect, the new firm also received important landscape commis- 
sions. In February 1852 Downing took on a second English architect, 


3. In ] 837 Downing continual the nursery under the name of A. J. Downing and Co., 
although his brother seems to have retained some sort of an interest in the business. In 
1839 Andrew Saul, a native of County Cork, Ireland, became manager of the nursery. 
George B. Tatum, "Introduction: The Downing Decade (1841-1852)," in Prophet with 
Honor, ed. Tatum and MacDougall, 1-20. See also George William Curtis, "Memoir to A. J. 
Downing," in Andrew Jackson Downing, Rural Essays (New York: Da Capo Press, 1974, 
reprint of 1853 edition), xi-xxiii. John A. Saul, "'free Culture; or a Sketch of Nurseries in 
the District of Columbia," Records of the Columbia Historical Society, 10 (1907): 51-62; 
George B. Tatum, "Nature's Gardener," in Prophet with Honor, cd. Tatum and MacDougall, 
44, note 5. 

4. At 1 7 Downing began writing articles for contemporary farming and gardening 
periodicals, such as The New-York Farmer and Hovey's Magazine of Horticulture ; Tatum, 
"The Downing Decade," in Prophet with Honor, ed. Tatum and MacDougall, 20-2. 
Downing's first book, and his most influential in terms of landscape gardening and 
design, was published in 1841: /I Treatise on the Theory and Practice of Landscape Gardening 
(New York: Wiley and Putnam, 1841). His first architectural book, which featured many 
of the designs of his friend the architect Alexander J. Davis, was Cottage Residences (New 
York: Wiley and Putnam, 1842). Downing continued to write strictly horticultural books 
and articles; for example, his book The fruits and Fruit Trees of America (New York: Wiley 
and Putnam, 1845). In 1846 Downing became the editor of a new monthly. The 
Horticulturist, and about this time he sold the nursery to Andrew Saul and two others. 
Downing's editorials in this publication were as influential as his books. He also took the 
trouble to maintain an active correspondence with his readers. Downing's personal 
charm, attested to by all who knew him, seemed to communicate itself through his 
writing. Tatum, 'The Downing Decade," in Prophet with Honor, cd. Tatum and MacDougall, 
24—36, 34, note 70. Andrew Saul became the sole proprietor of Highland Nurseries in 1859 
and ran tile business until his death in 1862. On April 14, 1863, the nursery stock was sold 
at auction and the land subdivided into lots. 


79 

Chapter 3. President’s Park and the Influence of the Downing Plan: 1851-1865 



The Downing Plan 


Frederick Withers, and enlarged his home/office to accommodate his 
"Bureau of Architecture." 5 


Downing's Work in Washington 

One of Downing's landscape clients was banker and art collector 
William Wilson Corcoran of Washington, D.C. 6 Through Corcoran 
Downing was asked to do the plan for the public grounds of 
Washington. 7 By November 1850 Downing had gained the support 
of Commissioner of Public Buildings Ignatius Mudd, as a letter from 
Joseph Henry, first secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, 
indicates: 

The same evening I called a meeting at the office of the 
mayor, of Mr. Mudd the commissioner of public buildings, 

Mr. Corcoran and the Mayor. After some conversation it 
was at length concluded to send for some competent land- 
scape gardener to give a general plan of the improvements 
to be made and on the suggestion of the Mayor it was 
resolved to request the President to direct that Mr. Downing 
from Newbourgh [sic] be requested to examine the grounds 
and report a plan of improvement. We (the Mayor, Mr. 

Mudd and myself) called next day on the President, pre- 


5. Downing visited many English parks and gardens, such as the Royal Horticultural 
Gardens at Kew near London and the Duke of Devonshire's estate, Chatsworth, in 
Derbyshire, about which he contributed interesting articles to The Horticuiturfst, 36-39. 
Tatum, "The Downing Decade," in Prophet with Honor, ed. Tatum and MacDougall, 36-39. 
See also Curtis, "Memoir," xlvii. For Vaux, see William Alex and George B. Tatum, Calvert 
Vaux; Architect and Planner (New York: Ink, Inc., 1994). 

6. In 1849 Corcoran had Downing landscape the grounds of his house (now demol- 
ished) at 1611 H Street on the north side of Lafayette Square, which James Renwick was 
in the process of renovating and enlarging. Scott and Lee, Buildings of the District of 
Columbia, 30-31; see also James M. Goode, Capital Losses: A Cultural History’ of Washington's 
Destroyed Buildings (Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1979), 34-56. For 
Corcoran, sec Dictionary of American Biography, 1930, s.v. "Corcoran, William Wilson.” 

7. Corcoran undoubtedly made overtures on the subject, but as a letter written by 
Calvert Vaux shortly after Downing's death makes clear. Downing did not want to 
promote himself actively for the project. "He was solicited by the Government to 
undertake the arrangement and superintendence of the Park at Washington. He refused 
to take any steps Lo push himself forward when'the matter was talked about and it was 
not tilt he received an official request that he took the matter up. His arrangements once 
made however, he devoted himself with immediate energy to the work," Vaux to 
Marsliall P. Wilder, Aug. 18, 1852, J. Jay Smith Papers, Library Company of Philadelphia, 
now on permanent deposit at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. Wilder, a prominent 
Boston horticulturist, had asked various people for information on Downing for a eulogy 
to be read before the Pomological Congress. Information courtesy of George B. Tatum. 


80 

Part I: The Evolution of President's Park 



sented the matter and received the sanction for writing to The Downing Plan 

Mr. Downing." 

There was apparently some delay in contacting Downing, but on 
November 25, 1850, he made his first visit to Washington, which 
was also recorded in Mudd's annual report for 1850. After referring 
to his report for the previous year and saying that "little care or 
attention had been previously bestowed" upon the public grounds of 
Washington, Mudd continued: 

At the suggestion, however, of several prominent gentle- 
men of this city, and by the approbation of the President, I 
invited A. J. Downing, esq., of Newburg IsicJ, New York, to 
examine and inspect the public grounds with reference to 
their more decorative and artistic improvement. Mr. Down- 
ing, who is a gentleman of the first accomplishments in the 
art of landscape formations, readily accepted the invitation, 
and upon a recent visit to Washington for that purpose, 
made a thorough examination of their surface, soil, and 
features. From his own observation, and the plats and pro- 
files furnished him from this office, he will be able to 
submit at a convenient period a general plan for improving 
the public grounds, which 1 shall probably communicate to 
Congress. 9 

On March 19, 1851, Henry wrote to President Fillmore, strongly 
supporting Downing and his plan and urging his appointment as 
superintendent. He went on to say: 

It is a work which requires the direction of a person, who 
has been as it were educated to the business. The 
preparation of the soil, the adoption of a system of 
drainage, the procuring and planting the proper trees, all 
requires a peculiar skill and experience which no person in 
the country possesses in a higher degree than Mr. 

Downing. 10 

By March 27, 1851, Congress formally authorized President Fillmore 
to engage Downing as "rural architect" to landscape the entire area 
from the Capitol to the President’s House.” Initially he was offered a 


8. Joseph Henry, "Locked Book," entry of Nov. 25, 1850, Smithsonian Institution 
Archives, Record Unit 7001, Box 39, MI51 023323. (Transcription courtesy of the Henry 
Papers, Smithsonian Institution.) 

9. Annual Report, Commissioner of Public Buildings, 1850, Ex. Doc. no. 47, Feb. 6, 1851, 9. 

10. Henry to Fillmore, Mar. 19, 1851, Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society, Buffalo, 
NY. Copy courtesy of the Henry Papers, Smithsonian Institution. 

11. William Easby to Downing, Mar. 27, 1851, microcopy 371, Letters Sent, Commis- 
sioner of Public Buildings, 1791-1867, RG 42, National Archives (NA). Hereafter cited as 
"Commissioner's Letters Sent." 


81 

Chapter 3. President's Park and the influence of the Downing Plan: 1851—1865 



The Downing Plan 


yearly "salary" (actually a commission, figured on a yearly basis and 
paid monthly) of $1,500, but it was ultimately raised to $2,500. 
Downing's professional responsibilities for the Washington public 
grounds were to provide the design and be involved in a general 
supervisory capacity. He was not required to live in Washington, but 
he came down for several days each month at times of the year 
when the work was actively progressing. 12 Superintending the work 
in Washington was William D. Brackenridge, a native of Scotland 
who came to the United States about 183 7. 13 To assist him in the 
Washington project, Downing sent to England for John Saul, the 
brother of Andrew Saul, who at that time was manager and part 
owner of Downing's former nursery in Newburgh. 14 

Downing's experience in the Washington project was not entirely 
positive. Some members of Congress and the general public seemed 
under the impression that he had been hired as a full-time employee, 
but because he spent little time in Washington, they began to 
question his employment. The problem escalated after William Easby 
replaced Mudd as commissioner. In June 1851 an unidentified person 
went directly to President Fillmore and complained that the last time 
Downing had been in Washington he stayed only long enough to 


12. Mr. Jones of Tennessee, in debate of Mar. 24, 1852, The Congressional Globe: New Series, 
Containing the Debates, Proceedings and Laws of the First Session of the Thirty-second Congress, 
vol. 24, part 2 (Washington, DC: John C. Rives, 1852), 853. 

13. In 1838 Brackenridge was appointed the botanist of the government-sponsored 
Wilkes expedition, which traveled to the south Pacific under the direction of Capt. Charles 
Wilkes between 1838 and 1842. In 1850 Brackenridge was put in charge of the National 
Botanic Garden. Tatum, "The Downing Decade," in Prophet with Honor, ed Tatum and 
MacDougall, 39; Dictionary of American Biography, 1 929, s.v. "Brackenridge, William D 
W. D. Brackenridge "Editorial Notes," The Gardeners' Monthly and Horticulturist 26, no. 312, 
(Dec. 1884): 375-76. Brackenridge moved to Baltimore in 1855 and became a nurseryman 
and landscape designer, laying out the grounds of many of the estates around the city. For 
Robert Buist's nursery, which supplied some plants for President's Park in the 1850s, see U. 
P. Hedrick, .4 History of Horticulture in America to 1860, With an Addendum of Books Published 
from 1861-1920 (Portland, OR: Timber Press, 1988). 

14. John Saul was born at Carey's Wood, County Cork, Ireland, on December 25, 
1819, and died in Washington, D C., on May 11, 1897. His early professional experience 
was in England and Wales. Between 1836 and 1841 he assisted his father in the gardens 
of East Cowes Castle, on the Isle of Wight. The castle had been built in 1 798 by architect 
John Nash as his own residence, and its original landscape design is thought to have been 
the work of Humphrey Repton, Nash's frequent partner. Saul's next position was as 
foreman at Uanlarnam Abbey in Gwent, Wales, where he stayed for two years. In 1 843 
Saul went to Durdham Down Nurseries in Bristol, where he had been briefly employed 
earlier. He was made manager in 1844 and remained there until February 1851, when he 
was summoned by Downing; Saul, "Tree Culture," 53; Vicky Basford, Historic Parks and 
Gardens of the Isle of Wight (Isle of Wight: Isle of Wight County Council, Cultural Services 
Dept,, 1989), 54; Elisabeth Wliittle, The Historic Gardens of Wales, An introduction to Parks 
and Gardens in the History' of Wales (London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office, 1992), 65, 70. 


82 

Part 1: rue Evolution of President's Park 



The Downing Plan 


draw his pay. 15 Henry reported the incident to Downing, who 
responded forcefully that he did not want interference from the 
commissioner and that the work was going well. 16 

On June 12, 1851, Downing wrote to President Fillmore. He 
explained that he had every confidence in his foreman to do the work 
correctly and that the time he was spending in Washington was 
sufficient until planting and other work would require more of his 
time and personal attention. 17 A few weeks later Downing and Henry 
met again with President Fillmore to settle the matter as to who had 
the jurisdiction of the grounds — Downing or Easby. Henry reported 
that. 

After much difficulty and perseverance Mr. Downing was 
called to give a plan of the grounds and afterwards to take 
charge of the improvement. . . . The city is susceptible of 
great improvement, and all the squares at the intersection 
of streets should be laid out tastefully, and surrounded with 
iron railing. This can be best effected under the direction of 
Mr. Downing. If some one of his character is not employed, 
the whole will be badly accomplished — one superintendent 
will make it Iris business to undo what the other has done, 
and so on. I am to see the Secretary of the Interior on the 
subject.'® 

A few days later Henry noted that improvements of the public 
grounds were progressing and that Downing was "to take charge of 
the small open spaces, formed by the intersection of streets and 
avenues, and is to enclose them with iron fences, and plant them 
with trees." 19 Apparently, steps were taken in this direction. In 
addition to the Mall, the grounds of the Smithsonian Institution, the 
grounds surrounding the President's House, the grounds south of 
the President's House, and Lafayette Square, Franklin Square, and an 


15. Henry lo Corcoran, Corcoran Papers, Library of Congress, Manuscripts Division. 
Copy courtesy of the Henry Papers. 

16. Downing to Henry, June 114?], 1851, Smithsonian Archives, record unit 7001, M101 
00 9951. Copy courtesy of the Henry Papers. 

17. Downing to Fillmore, June 12, 1851, microcopy 371, Letters Received, Commissioner 
of Public Buildings, 1 791-1867, RG 42; hereafter cited as "Commissioner's Letters Received." 

18. Henry, Locked Book Diary, entry of July 1, 1851, record unit 7001, box 39, M151 
023325, Smithsonian Archives. Transcription courtesy of the Henry Papers. 

19. Henry to Alexander Dallas Bache, July 10, 1851, Locked Book Diary, record unit 
7001, box no. 39, Ml 51 023326, Smithsonian Archives. Transcription courtesy of the 
Henry Papers. 


83 

Chapter 3. President’s Park and the Influence of the Downing Plan: 1851-1 865 



The Dotvning Plan 


unidentified triangular intersection on Pennsylvania Avenue became 
Downing projects. 20 

On July 28, 1852, Downing set out for one of his regular visits. The 
first leg of his journey was a steamboat trip down the Hudson River 
on the Henry Clay. The Henry Clay began racing with its rival, the 
Armenia ; the Henry Clay's overheated engine room caught fire. 
Seventy lives were lost, including that of A. J. Downing. 21 


Specific Plans 

Downing had been asked to develop a plan for the land between the 
Capitol and the President's House, an area that had been set aside as a 
public space in the L'Enfant/Ellicott plan. The interior layout for the 
land between the Capitol and the Mall had never been clearly worked 
out, and the President's Park section was very much in the process of 
evolution. Downing's design for the city’s public grounds was the 
first plan for a large-scale public park in the United States. 

The original Downing drawing is in poor condition and is best 
known from an 1867 copy shown in figure 3-1; a detail of the plan 
for President's Park is shown in figure 3-2. As is readily apparent, 
the Ellipse is very fully designed, even though at this point it is a true 
circle and not an ellipse. The grounds around the White House are 
indicated only in a schematic way, and Lafayette Park appears as an 
empty rectangle. Accompanying the plan and report was a sketch of 
a new arch from Pennsylvania Avenue and also a sketch for a 
proposed suspension bridge over the Tiber Canal. 22 


20. "Disbursement: Franklin Square, A. J. Downing's roll for Superintendent," Oct. 4, 
1851; "Disbursement: Triangular Spate on Pennsylvania Avenue, to Corcoran and Riggs for 
advances made by them on bills approved by A. J. Downing, including payment to Robert 
Wood for Iron Railing, N. Acker, granite coping, etc., totaling $5,019.49," Sept. 16, 1852. 
Both entries are Found in Daybook 13, 1851-53, 67-Cashbooks, Financial Records 181 7-83, 
RG 42, NA. Sec also Easby to Downing, Aug. 25, 1851, Commissioner's Letters Sent. The 
Franklin Square project is also referred to in the congressional debate of March 24, 1852, The 
Congressional Globe, New Series, Proceedings and Laws of the First Session of the Thirty-second 
Congress, vol. 24, part 2 (1852), p. 854. 

21. Tatum, 'The Downing Decade," in Prophet with Honor, ed. Tatum and MacDougall, 
39—41; John Clagett Proctor, "The Tragic Death of Andrew Jackson Downing and the 
Monument to His Memory," Records of the Columbia Historical Society, 27 (1925): 248-61. 
Curtis in his "Memoir" also describes Downing’s death (Rural Essays, liii-lvii). See also the 
account of the Henry Clay in The New-York Daily Times, July 29-August 4, 1852. 

22. The sketches for the arch and suspension bridge are illustrated in David Schuyler, 
"The Washington Park and Downing's Legacy to Public Landscape Design," in Prophet 
with Honor, ed. Tatum and MacDougall, 299. See also Seale, The President's House, 292- 
301. 


84 

part 1: Ti ie Evolution of President's Park 



The Downing Plan 


Downing's plan for the space between the Capitol and the White 
House was ambitious. He divided the site into six areas, the first of 
which was the President's Park or parade to the south of the White 
House. For the parade. Downing wrote: 

This comprises the open Ground directly south of the 
President's House. Adopting suggestions made me at 
Washington I propose to keep the large area of this ground 
open, as a place for parade or military reviews, as well as 
public festivities or celebrations. A circular carriage drive 40 
feet wide and nearly a mile long shaded by an avenue of 
Elms surrounds the Parade, while a series of foot-paths, 10 
feet wide, winding through thickets of trees and shrubs, 
forms the boundary to this park, and would make an 
agreeable shaded promenade for pedestrians. 

I propose to take down the present small stone gates to the 
President's Grounds, and place at the end of Pennsylvania 
Avenue a large and handsome Archway of marble, which 
shall not only form the main entrance from the City to the 
whole of the proposed new Grounds, but shall also be one 
of the principal Architectural ornaments of the city; inside 
of this arch-way is a semicircle with three gates 
commanding three carriage roads. Two of these lead into 
the parade or President’s Park, the third is a private 
carriage-drive into the President's grounds; this gate should 
be protected by a Porter's lodge and should only be open on 
reception days, thus making the President's grounds on this 
side of the house private at all other times. I propose to have 
the exit of guests on reception days on this side of the 
house, the entrance, as now, on the other side. 23 

Downing explained the reason for the lack of detail in the White 
House grounds part of the plan: 

I have not shown on the plan several ideas that have 
occurred to me for increasing the beauty and seclusion of 
the President's grounds, because I would first wish to 
submit them for the approval of the President. 21 

Initially President Fillmore authorized the adoption of Downing's 
plan only for a portion of the Mall area west of Seventh Street. In the 
spring of 1851 work began on grading, draining, and clearing the 
area near the Smithsonian. Downing's death in August 1852 dealt a 


23. A, J. Downing, "Explanatory Notes to his Excellency the President of the United States 
to accompany the plan for Improving the Public Grounds of Washington," 185 1, reprinted 
in Wilcomb E. Washburn, "Vision of Life for the Mall," American Institute of Architects 
Journal (March 1967). 

24. Downing, "Explanatory Notes.” 


85 

Chapter 3. President's Park and the Influence of the Downing Plan: 1851-1865 



The Grounds of the White House 


severe blow to the project, although Brackenridge and Saul continued 
with construction and planting until the appropriation approved by 
Congress was exhausted. President Fillmore approved the design and 
authorized an appropriation for the eastern part of the grounds in 
February 1852. 25 A detail of a map of Washington drawn by 
surveyor James Keily in 1851 is illustrated in figure 3- 3. This 
appears to reflect the Downing plan, since the Ellipse and grounds of 
President's House are shown as he proposed them. 

The design concept behind Downing's plan for the Mall, although 
never fully realized, persisted as an ideal and served as a model for a 
national public ground incorporating a museum of horticulture. 26 
Downing's picturesque plan for Washington, at least the Mall portion 
of it, has frequently been criticized as being "grossly inappropriate for 
this unique site and indicates Downing's complete misunderstanding 
of the imperatives so clearly dictated by the L'Enfant plan." 27 


The Grounds of the White House 

The portion of Downing's plan that deals with the grounds of the 
President's House (figure 3-2) is not very detailed. Among the 
(presumably) existing features are two clumps of trees at the loca- 
tion of the Jefferson mounds. From a debate that was held in Con- 
gress shortly after his death to discuss compensation to his widow, it 
is clear that Downing produced many plans, specifications, and 
drawings for the project, but all of them have disappeared. 28 Since the 
detailed drawings were lost, and since many of his ideas for the 


25. Schuyler, "The Washington Park," 301-3. See also NPS, Administrat ive History, 94. 

26. Tlierese O’Malley, "'A Public Museum of Trees: Mkt-Nineleenth Century Plans for the 
Mall,” in The Mall in Washington, 1791-1991, ed. Richard Longstreth (Washington, DC: The 
National Gallery of Art, 1991), 66-74; Reps, Monumental Washington , 53. Since Downing 
(and later Brackenridge) was the government's agent for the work done under this plan 
for tlie Mall and President's Park, the commissioner of public buildings never reported in 
detail on the execution of the Downing projects, explaining that the agent would file 
independent reports. Except in the form of correspondence, no such reports appear to 
have been filed by either Downing or Brackenridge. Brackenridge resigned by 1854. 

27. Reps, Monumental Washington, 53. 

28. The Congressional Globe: The First Session of the Thirty-second Congress, vol. 24, part 3 
(Washington, DC: John C. Rives, 1852), 2374-75. Brackenridge sent a letter to Congress 
attesting that the drawings, etc., most of which were apparently still in Newburgh and not 
in Washington, were worth $5,000 above and beyond Downing’s salary, since it would cost 
at least that much to obtain new drawings. The government eventually paid Mrs, Downing 
the $675 in arrears on her husband's salary, but there is no evidence that they paid anything 
further. Whether the drawings remained in Newburgh or were sent by Vaux or Mrs. 
Downing to Washington, no trace of them has ever turned up. 


86 

PartI: The Evolution of President's Park 



The Grounds of the White House 


grounds of President's House were not incorporated into the 1851 
plan, it is difficult to analyze what Downing may have intended for 
this part of the plan. It is possible, however, that he might have 
eliminated much of the landscape that existed in 1851. The new 
marble archway he envisioned at the Pennsylvania Avenue entrance 
on the east and the drives connected with it would have altered the 
southern part of the grounds. 29 

In a letter written to a friend in June 1851 Downing described how 
he found the state of the grounds: 

The Public grounds already planted about the Capitol & 
Preslidenjts House show a firm and luxuriant growth of 
trees, but it would entertain you to see how far behind us 
at the North they are here in all matters of horticulture. 

The President has a gardener at 1200 a year (a stupid 
Irishman) and the government pays about 10,000 a year to 
men employed as gardeners, and yet there is no fruit of any 
kind for the President's table, no greenhouse, and only a 
miserable kitchen garden. Trees & grass are the sole luxuries 
of the gardening art known by our chief magistrate, be he 
whig or democrat. 30 

Although Downing's criticisms focus on the shortcomings of the 
kitchen garden, his account differs significantly from a description of 
the south side of the President's House given in an 1850 guidebook: 

This front overlooks the promenade garden, which is 
beautifully ornamented with three artificial hillocks, forest 
trees, garden shrubbery, various flowers, blooming from 
early spring to late fall, and serpentine walks. The grounds 
of this mansion are surrounded, on the north by an iron 
fence; on the west, by the War and Navy Departments; on 
the south, by a sexangular stonewall; and on the east, by 
the Treasury and State Departments. 31 

In June 1851 William Easby, the new commissioner of public build- 
ings, purchased "wire" (iron) fencing, on Downing's recommenda- 
tion, "to inclose Isic] the border around the President's House." It is 
probable that a portion of this fence was used to line the southern 
edge (outer side) of the semicircular carriageway on the north 


29. Seale, The President's House, 294—301 . 

30. Downing added, "Foreign grapes are a thing unknown in this meridian." Downing 
had persuaded Corcoran to put up two vineries, and he also wanted the president to have 
fresh fruit all season. Downing to Roswell Colt, June 27, 1851, Roswell Colt Collection, 
Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Philadelpliia. 

31. "Three" artificial hillocks must be a misprint or an error. This guidebook is not 
illustrated; Streeter, The Stranger's Guide, 20-21. 


87 

Chapter 3. President's Park and the Influence of the Downing Plan: 1851-1 865 



The Grounds of the White House 


grounds. This fence was higher and built of lighter material than the 
anthemion railing installed in 1829, which lined the northern edge 
{inner side) of the semicircular carriageway. Two gates facing east 
and west (the enclosed northeast and northwest portion of the north 
grounds) were placed where the anthemion railing at the parapet met 
the lighter and higher fence that edged the carriageway. 32 The gates 
controlled access to the grounds of the Executive Mansion. 

In 1851-52 work was done on the grounds of the President's House, 
as well as on the Mall. In 1851 Easby reported that the stables had 
been repaired, a new cow barn built, and new drains and paving put 
in around the stables and stable yard. In addition, a new watch 
house was built, new iron gates were installed at the northeast and 
northwest entrances, and roads were paved and repaired. 33 In 1852 
iron settees (portable benches normally taken in for the winter) were 
purchased for the President's House as well as the Capitol. 34 

In January 1852 John Ousley was discharged, presumably at 
Downing's request. 35 Asked to recommend a replacement as a 
"vegetable gardener," Downing chose John Watt, a market gardener 
whom Downing had employed for a short time and whom John 
Saul, his foreman, had known for years. 36 

In 1853, just before Franklin Pierce's inauguration, Congress appro- 
priated an additional $12,000 for the "grounds south" of the Presi- 
dent's House. In June 1853 President Pierce appointed Benjamin B. 
French, a New Hampshire native, to be the commissioner of public 
buildings. During the Pierce administration French supplied the 


32. Downing to Easby, June 4, 1851, and June 5, 1851, Commissioner's Letters Received. 
Correspondence with the same firm in 1 853 about the same "pattern'' of fencing mentions 
pickets and ornaments, so it could not have been literally wire. Annua! Report, Commissioner 
of Piiblic Buildings, Feb. 17, 1852, Ex. Doc. no. 79, 16-17. 

33. Annual Report, Commissioner of Public Buildings, Feb. 17, 1852, Ex. Doc. no. 79, 16-17. 

34. The settees were purchased from James Beebe & Co. of New York City. Annual 
Report, Commissioner of Public Buildings, Feb. 12, 1853, 6; James Beebe & Co. to Richard H. 
Staunton (chairman. Public Buildings and Grounds), Aug. [?], 1852; Alexander H. H. Stuart 
(sec. of the int.) to Easby, Oct. 14, 1852; both in Commissioner's Letters Received. Easby to 
James Beebe & Co., Oct. 18, 1852, Commissioner's Letters Sent. The Beebe company sent a 
"pattern" of the kind of settee the company recommended, which Easby ordered, but this is 
not included with the letters. The Beebe & Co. catalogues could probably be located in some 
repository in New York City, such as the Avery library at Columbia University. The circu- 
lar settees, which wrapped around a tree trunk, may not have been a type that was taken 
inside in the winter. 

35. Easby to Ousley, Jan. 19, 1852, Commissioner's Letters Sent. 

36. Downing to Fillmore, Jan. 7, 1852, Millard Fillmore Papers, ed. Frank H. Severance, 
Publications of the Buffalo Historical Society, vol. 10-11 (Buffalo, NY: The Buffalo Historical 
Society, 1907); Easby to Watt, Jan. 31, 1852, Commissioner's Letters Sent. 


88 

Part I: The Evolution of President's Park 



The Grounds of the White House 


White House with orchard trees, including 12 pear trees and 1 1 apple 
trees, from his own grounds. It is difficult to tell how much of the 
$12,000 was actually used for the grounds and greenhouses of the 
President's House. Later records suggest that most of it went for the 
Ellipse. John Watt obtained approval from President Pierce to 
overhaul the gardens, but Downing's plan may have been disre- 
garded in favor of a general sprucing up of the existing arrangement. 
Watt demolished the old orangery down to its brick walls in order to 
expand it into a greenhouse, which was constructed between May 
and August or September 1853. The original orangery remained as 
the centerpiece of the new structure and was used as a private solar- 
ium for the president; this greenhouse stood for only four years. 37 

In the flower garden a new picket fence was put up and gravel was 
spread on the walks. The old arbor was rebuilt and painted white, 
and as many as possible of the old roses growing on it were 
preserved. Benches under the arbor were painted dark green. In 1853 
Watt ordered several varieties of camellias, as well as star jasmines 
and lemon and orange trees, undoubtedly for the orangery. 38 That 
same year 500 additional feet of iron railing was ordered, of the 
same type as recommended by Downing, but it is unclear where it 
was placed. 39 

During the Pierce and Buchanan administrations the grounds at the 
President's House continued to be open to the public on Saturday 
evenings in the summer, with musical entertainment by the Marine 
Band. These events were extremely popular and drew large crowds. 40 


37. Scale, The President's House, 310-13, notes 9-15; NPS, "The President's Garden," 29, 
plates 42 and 43. French's first annual report lists an expenditure of $7,848.24 to complete 
the improvements on the square south of the President's House, as well as an expenditure 
of $3,499.23 for annual repairs of the President's House, an item that usually included 
maintenance to the grounds. Salaries of the public gardener (Maher) and of laborers were 
additional items, as were materials such as tools, trees, and manure. See Annual Report, 
Commissioner of Public Buildings, Jan. 30, 1854, House of Representatives misc. doc. 11, 23. 
The two 185 7 photographs in "The President's Garden" show the first greenhouse in the 
background, partly hidden by the west wing of the Treasury, then under construction. 

38. Some of these were supplied by the Philadelphia nursery of Peter Mackenzie; Seale, 
the President's House, 313-14, note 16. 

39. It is difficult to see how Watt could have stocked so much plant material so 
quickly, including hundreds of trees mature enough to set out in parks. One possibility is 
that Saul may have worked out some sort of an arrangement with liis brother, Andrew, 
then part owner of Downing's former nursery, so some of this plant material may 
actually have come from Newburgh, New York. Easby to J. B. Wickersham, Apr. 23, 
1853, Commissioner's Letters Sent. 

40. Kirk, Musical the White House, 72, 74. 


89 

Chapter 3. President's Park and the Influence of the Downing Plan: 1 851 -1865 



The Grounds of the White House 


On January 2, 1854, Sessford reported that the grounds south of the 
President's House {possibly referring to the Ellipse rather than the 
president's grounds) had been further improved. 41 

After leaving as superintendent of construction and planting, John 
Saul established a nursery that became a major supplier for Presi- 
dent's Park and other government grounds. Another nursery sup- 
plied flowering shrubs and annuals, including camellias, azaleas, 
begonias, china pinks, and sweet alyssum, for the president's gar- 
den. 41 In spring 1854 fruit trees, camellias, dogwood, quince, and 
redbuds all bloomed. 43 An 1857 photograph of the southwest 
grounds shows trees and several trellises (figure 3-4). The Jackson 
magnolias are not evident. 44 One of the earliest known photographs 
of the north side of the White House, taken before 1857, shows the 
Jefferson statue and its encircling path (figure 3-5). A later photo- 
graph from the same period but taken during a different season 
reveals substantial changes in the vegetation planted on the north 
lawn. The evergreens paralleling the anthemion railing are gone, and 
two substantial trees have been added, framing the north portico 
(figure 3-6). 45 

In October 1854, Benjamin French prepared a plan to realign the 
original wall and carriage road south of the President's House 
"agreeably to the plan of A. J. Downing, for improvement of said 
road and grounds." The new alignment would extend the southern 
boundary of the White House grounds by about 15 feet. 46 

Work resumed on the Treasury Building in 1855. Earth removed 
during excavation appears to have been used to create a mound just 
to the south of the Jefferson wall, in preparation for removing the 


41. "The Sessford Annals,” 362. 

42. "Disbursement, President's House, John Wall for John Saul for trees of various kinds 
for the use of the President's Garden from October 27, 1853 to March 1854, $198.50," 
June 10, 1854; "Disbursement, President's Garden, to Robert (Halliday?), camellias, etc., 
Oct. 28, 1854.” Both items are in Daybook 14, 67-Cashbooks, RG 42, NA. See also NPS, 
"The President's Garden," 29. 

43. Seale, The President's House, 324-326, note 32. 

44. Another print from the same point of view and dated to the 1850s appears to show 
the grounds in full summer, with much more elaborate planting than can be seen in figure 
3-4, with many plants in tubs, etc.; OC/WH. 

45. These two trees had not been planted and the evergreens were still along the 
anthemion fence ca. 1853 (see figure 3-13). 

46. NPS, "The President's Garden,'' 29. 


90 

Part I: The Evolution of President's Park 



The Ground 1 ; of the Wh ite House 


wall and the southern extension of the grounds. 47 By October 1 855 
the Jefferson wall still had not been removed. 4 " In a photograph 
dated about 1861 and attributed to Matthew Brady (figure 3-7), the 
wall is veiy visible in the foreground. An 1858 report from 
Commissioner John B. Blake suggests that it would be some time 
before the wall came down and the road was realigned. 

The grounds never looked better. Owing to the extension of 
the Treasury building they have been very much com- 
pressed and ought to be enlarged. Congress made an appro- 
priation for taking down the south wall and reconstructing 
it in such a manner as to give the house the benefit of the 
grounds south of it. The plan adopted for the Treasury 
extension interfered with the plan for the improvement of 
the President's grounds, and the latter was abandoned. 

Congress subsequently authorized the adoption of a new 
plan, such as the President might approve; but the street 
immediately south of the wall being occupied by the 
workshops and materials of the Treasury building no new 
plan has been submitted. My own opinion is, that the 
grounds south of the house ought to be added to the 
President's grounds without any intervening wall A 

The extension of the Treasury Building necessitated the removal of 
the existing stables south of the grounds of the President's House. In 
1856-57 a new stable with stalls for 12 horses was built even far- 
ther south, well into the area that would become the Ellipse. The 
stable and greenhouse had to be removed, and a new conservatory 
was constructed on the west terrace, the major activity affecting the 
landscape during James Buchanan's administration. Another factor 
that may have contributed to the removal of the earlier greenhouse 
was severe damage from a hailstorm on June 21, 1857, when more 


47. Seale, The President's House, 343, note 32; correspondence between Secretary 
McClelland, John P. Blake, and James Guthrie, July 6 and July 13, 1855. The two new 
mounds south of the White House and south of the wall appear to have been Blake's idea. 
See file on "Mounds on the South Grounds," OC/WH. The Stanley McClure Files 
(ESF/WHL/NPS) include a partial copy of the letter from McClelland to Blake of July 6, 
1855, "1 transmit to you, herewith, a copy of a letter this day received from the Secretary 
of the Treasury on the subject of constructing a mound, in the grounds south of the 
President's house, out of the dirt to be excavated in making the foundation of the South 
Wing of the Treasury Building." This documentation does not seem to indicate whether 
this "mound" (singular) was ever even constructed. Seale cites bills for moving earth, 
describes two mounds being built just outside the Jefferson wall in the summer and fall of 
1855. 

48. Annual Report, Commissioner of Public Buildings, Oct. 11,1 855, 597. 

49. Annual Report, Commissioner of Public Buddings, Ocl. 18, 1858, 692. 


91 

Chapter 3. President's Park and the Influence of the Downing Plan: 1851-1865 



The Grounds of the White House 


than 5,000 panes of glass were destroyed. 50 In 185 7, as a result of the 
expansion of the Treasury, the "old garden" and conservatory, and 
ultimately the Latrobe/Jefferson gate, also had to be removed. 51 

Albert Boschke, a surveyor for the United States Coast Survey, 
published a map of the District of Columbia based on surveys he 
conducted between 1856 and 1859. 52 A detail of the 1857 Boschke 
map showing President's Park has been frequently reproduced (figure 
3-8). Boschke has a reputation for being very accurate, but it is not 
clear if the President's House grounds section of the plan is a survey 
or a projection of proposed plans. 53 

In 1858 gasolier porch lamps were mounted in the stone columns in 
the north portico. Similar lighting fixtures are still extant on the 
north gate piers. 54 

During 1859, $11,542.90 was spent on annual repairs of the 
President's House and the grounds. In May Blake ordered horse- 
drawn mowing machines from Robert Buist of Philadelphia. Before 
that time, the public grounds had apparently been either scythed or 
mowed by hand. Blake also purchased a large-size garden roller. 55 

During the Abraham Lincoln administration, John Watt remained 
gardener and ordered many new plants, especially roses and camel- 
lias; gardening, however, was not a top priority during the Civil 
War. Since the screening plantings recommended by Downing had 
never been installed, the grounds were too open to provide any 
seclusion. The Lincolns had little privacy inside the President's House, 
and they frequently resorted to the conservatory for that purpose. 
On February 10, 1864, the new stables caught fire, destroying 


50. Annual Report, Commissioner of Public Buildings, Oct. 15, 1857, 718, 719. See also Blake 
to McClelland, Feb. 5, 1857, and file on "White House Stables and Garages," Aug. 10, 1992, 
OC/WH. Seale, The President's House, 343-45, notes 32-38; NFS, "The President's Garden," 
31. See also file on "Greenhouses," OC/WH. 

51. Annual Report, Commissioner of Public Buildings, Oct. 15, 1857, 718, 719. 

52. For background on this plan, see Reps, Washington on View, 118-19. 

53. A fountain is included on the northern part of the south lawn, where such a 
fountain is known to have existed from at least 1861; see file on the "White House 
Fountains," OC/WH. 

54. Scale, The White House, 88. 

55. In spring 1859 James (Jemmy) Maher, the long-time public gardener, died and was 
replaced by T. J. Sutter; [Annual] Report, Commissioner of Public Buildings, Oct. 13, 1859, 
842, 850. [Annual] Report, Commissioner of Public Buildings, Oct. 13, 1859, 850. Blake to 
Robert Buist, May 6, 1859, May 7, 1859, May 21, 1859, and Aug. 19, 1859; Commis- 
sioner's Letters Sent. In 1860, $3,378,62 was spent on repairs of the President's House, 
grounds, etc.; lAnnual ] Report, Commissioner of Public Buildings, Nov. 16, 1860, 493. 


92 

Part I: The Evolution of President's Park 



The Grounds of the White House 


nearly all the horses that were housed there. Later that year, new 
stables were built near the Navy Building on the western part of the 
grounds. The new stables are usually described as being south of the 
Navy Building, but they may have been located closer to West 
Executive Avenue. A small structure shown in this location on the 
Boschke map may have been a cottage. 56 Figure 3-9 shows the 
stables as they appeared in an 1869 publication. 

In 1861 Commissioner Benjamin French reported that because of the 
extension of the Treasury Building, it would be necessary to change 
some of the walks and fences to the south of the President's House 
and requested an appropriation to do so. 57 Between November 1, 
1861, and June 30, 1862, $6,261.23 was spent on annual repairs to 
the President's House. Most of the work seems to have been to fix 
defective arrangements for pumping water out of the basement and 
grounds of the building. 58 During the next fiscal year the commis- 
sioner was again primarily concerned with the condition of the 
house, especially its rat-ridden ground floor. He asked Congress to 
consider building a new presidential mansion in a healthier location. 
He reported that even though the new public gardener, James Nokes 
(who had replaced Sutter) was extremely efficient, a large part of the 
president's garden suffered from standing water and that without 
new drains it was almost futile to attempt to grow fruit trees or 
cultivate a garden. 59 

Relatively little was accomplished on the landscape of the President's 
House during the Lincoln administration. However, several prints 
and photographs provide a good idea of its appearance in the early 
1860s. By 1861 a small fountain with a shaft sea serpent had been 
set into place on the northern part of the south lawn a short distance 
from the portico. This was the first time that an attempt was made 
to carry out the L' Enfant idea of locating some body of water in 
President's Park. 60 This fountain, which was replaced by another in 
1869, can be seen clearly in the print illustrated in figure 3-10. In an 
1861 photograph of the Clay Battalion in front of the south facade 
of the White House (figure 3-11), many fewer trees appear than in 
figure 3-10. However, to the left of the portico, two good-sized trees 


56. annual Report, Commissioner of Public buildings, Nov. 8, 1864, 683-84; Scale, The 
President's House, 391-96, notes 27-41, 411; file on "White House Stables and Garages," 
Aug. 10, 1992, OC/WH; and NFS, "Archeological Evaluation," 42. 

57. Annual Report, Commissioner of the Public buildings, Nov. 8, 1861, 849. 

58. Annual Report, Commissioner of the Public Buildings, Oct. 29, 1862, 2, 8. 

59. Annual Report, Commissioner of the Public Buildings, Oct. 13, 1863, 661-62, 664-65. 

60. File, "White House Fountains," OC/WH. 


93 

Chapter 3. President's Park and the Influence of the Downing Plan: 1851-1865 



Lafayette Square are visible, probably the Jackson magnolias, although they seem a 

little too far to the west. An 1862 Matthew Brady photograph 
(figure 3-12) shows grounds workers with a lawn roller. 

Except for a two-year period following the death of son Willie, when 
Mrs. Lincoln allowed no Marine Band program in the President's 
House or on the grounds, social events went on fairly regularly 
during the war years, and music played an active part. Lincoln was 
fond of the Marine Band. He appreciated its excellence, and in 1861 
he established the first act to recognize the band by law. He attended 
the concerts whenever he could. 61 

A guidebook to Washington published in 1864 described the north 
grounds of the President's House, in front of the portico, as "a neatly 
ornamented yard, of semicircular form, its carriage ways and foot 
pavements leading to gates at either corner, which afford ingress 
from Pennsylvania Avenue." 62 For the south side the guidebook noted 
that; 


The garden on this side of the Mansion is a lovely spot, and 
favorite resort. The grounds are laid out in a tasteful and 
romantic style, adorned with artificial mounds, trees, 
shrubbery, flowers, and a fountain. From the grounds a 
splendid view is obtained of the surrounding country, the 
Potomac, and the City of Alexandria. 63 


Lafayette Square 

In his annual report for 1850 Commissioner Ignatius Mudd stated 
that Lafayette Square should be improved. Appropriations should be 
increased so that a suitable fence could be designed and constructed. 
This work had been planned the previous year, but it had not been 
funded. 64 

Although it did not form a part of the 1851 plan, a letter from 
Calvert Vaux to Marshall P. Wilder clearly demonstrates that 
Downing had prepared a plan for Lafayette Square that had been 
almost completely implemented by the time of his death: 


61. Kirk, Music at the White House, 88-89. 

62. The Stranger's Guide-Book to Washington City and Everybody's Pocket Handy-Book 
(Washington, DC: William F. Richstein, 1864), 23 

63. The Stranger's Guide-Book to Washington , 23-24 

64. Annual Report, Commissioner of Public Buildings, Feb. 5, 1851, 11. 


94 

Part I: The Evolution of President's Park 



Lafayette Square 


The ground opposite the other front of the President's 
House, called President's Square, was first laid out, planted 
and completed all but the railing and I was to have sent him 
on a drawing of the same to lay before the Committee 
during the time he would have been at Washington had he 
lived. This design was an idea of his and was to have been 
an adaptation of the American Corn . 45 

Downing's plan called for the thinning of the trees that Bulfinch had 
planted, setting up a base for the Jackson statue in the center, and 
laying out the square in a pattern of winding graveled walks. Beds 
and shrubbery were to adorn a mowed lawn. 46 

The annual reports, correspondence, and unpublished financial 
records of the commissioners of public buildings document the con- 
struction of Lafayette Square. In his annual report for 1851, Com- 
missioner William Easby reported that the appropriation made by 
Congress in September 1850 had been expended under Downing's 
direction. 67 He noted that the old wooden fence had almost been 
destroyed and that a new iron one was indispensable. On December 
31, 1851, John Sessford reported that the ground had been laid off 
into walks. 68 

Beginning in September 1852 and continuing through the end of 
1853, expenditures were made for construction and planting. 69 The 


65. Vaux to Wilder, Aug. 18, 1852. See also Schuyler, "The Washington Park," 303, and 
A. J. Downing, A Treatise on the Theory and Practice of Landscape Gardening, 6th ed. (New 
York: A. O. Moore and Co., 1859), 572. For this posthumous edition, Henry Winthrop 
Sargent, a close friend of Downing's, added a supplement, making tliis perhaps the most 
useful of the editions of Downing's Treatise. 

66. Seale, "The Design of Lafayette Park," 12. 

67. in October 1851 a payment was made for the laborers employed by A. J. Downing, 
as well as another sum for manure, together totaling $1,173.25; Disbursement, Lafayette 
Square: "Paid A. J. Downing's roll for labor $1,038.50; Paid A. J. Downing’s roll for 
manure $134.75," Oct. 4, 1851, Daybook 13, 67-Cashbooks, RG 42, NA. On November 3, 
1851, a total of $1,680.17 was entered to record payroll and manure for Lafayette 
Square, as well as Downing's monthly compensation as "Rural Architect." A figure for 
manure only is recorded for Dec. 5, 1851; Annual Report, Commissioner of Public Buildings, 
Feb. 17, 1852, 14. 

68. "The Sessford Annals," 349. 

69. There are no further daybook entries for Lafayette Square until August 10, 1852, 
about two weeks after Downing's death, when Corcoran and Riggs were reimbursed 
$1,989.82 for sums they had advanced on Downing's payroll and one month of his 
salary (December 1851 through April 1852); ''Disbursement: Making Roads and Walks in 
Lafayette Square." Payments for five months of Downing's payroll and one month of his 
salary "made to Corcoran and Riggs for advances made by them to A. J. Downing," entry 
of Aug. 10, 1852, Daybook 13, 67-Cashbooks, RG 42, NA. This sort of arrangement may 
simply have reflected banking practices of the period; in effect, Corcoran and Riggs may 


95 

Chapter 3. President’s Park and the Influence of the Downing Plan: 1851-1 865 



Lafayette Square 


only recorded purchase of plants for this site was in October 1 852 
for unspecified trees. 70 In 1852 Easby reported expenditures of 
$5,988 for laying roads and walks and planting and $1,404.98 for 
erecting a pedestal for the statue of Andrew Jackson. 71 

On January 8, 1 853, Clark Mills's equestrian statue of Jackson was 
unveiled. 72 An early lithograph of the Jackson statue, Lafayette 
Square, and the north front of the White House, drawn by Casimir 
Bohn before the statue was enclosed within an iron fence, is illus- 
trated in figure 3-13. Beginning in April 1853 large sums of money 
were paid for the iron fence around Lafayette Square, and for blocks 
of stone for the fence, which survive to this day. 72 John Sessford 
described the completion of the park in 1853: "Lafayette square 
beautifully laid out and enclosed by an iron fence, which, with the 
Jackson statue, is much admired." 74 Although the executed iron fence 
was much simpler than the "American Com" motif that Downing 
had designed, it was made of heavy cast iron and included massive 
ornamental gates on the four sides with gas lamps. 75 

Gaslights were installed in Lafayette Square in 1853, Later photo- 
graphic evidence shows two light fixtures at the southern gate piers, 
and it is possible that similar light fixtures crowned the piers at other 


have given the government an overdraft, entries of Sept. 4, 1852, Sept. 16, 1852, and Sept, 
24,1852. 

70. Entry of Oct. 28, 1852, Daybook 1.3, 67-Cashbooks, RG 42, NA, The trees were 
purchased from Ed. Boulsant|?|. In the congressional debate on August 26, 1852, over the 
compensation of Downing's widow, Senator Davis described meeting Downing, saying, ‘‘He 
was here constantly during a certain season of the year. I saw him every day until the frost 
became so severe that he could no longer set trees. When the ground was closed up so that he 
could not set trees he went away until the ground opened again. Then he returned, and was 
here constantly superintending the transplanting of trees, many of them large, and requiring 
his own attention. He was thus here far into the spring." See The Congressional Globe: The First 
Session of the Thirty-second Congress, vol. 24, part 3 (Washington, DC: John C. Rives, 1 852), 
2374-75. Downing's personalized "tree setting" must have taken place on grounds of the 
Smithsonian, since no trees were planted in either Lafayette Square or the Ellipse before his 
death. 

71. The pedestal was designed by Clark Mills, sculptor of the statue; Annual Report, 
Commissioner of Public Buildings, Feb. 12, 1853, 21. 

72. for the Jackson statue, see James M. Goode, The Outdoor Sculpture of Washington, D C.: 
A Comprehensive Historical Guide (Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1974), 
377-78. The Jackson statue was the first bronze equestrian statue cast in the United States. 
Mills, a self-taught sculptor, had never seen an equestrian statue. 

73. Entries of Apr. 26, Apr. 27, May 27, May 28, and June 7, 1853, Daybook 13, 67- 
Cashbooks, RG 42, NA. The stone foundation of the fence was “rediscovered" during 
excavation in the fall of 1 999. 

74. "The Sessford Annals,” 362. 

75. Seale, "The Design of Lafayette Park," 13. 


96 


PART I : THE EVOLUTiON OF PRESIDENT'S PARK 



major gates (one in each corner and one on the north side). There is Lafayette Square 

no evidence to indicate if the two smaller gates on the east and west 
sides of the site also had lighting fixtures. 76 

In 1858, Commissioner Blake reported that at last it was possible to 
keep cattle out of Lafayette Square: 

Lafayette square has been very mucli improved. The under- 
ground drainage which was made in it last year, has cor- 
rected the dampness that existed in some parts and pre- 
vented the grass and shrubbery from growing, and now 
everything is as flourishing in those localities, as in any 
other portion of it. The entrances to it have been made easy 
by the erection of small circular railings, with light gates, 
just within the large and heavy gates, which give great 
satisfaction, and answer the purpose of keeping out cattle.” 

In the Boschke map (figure 3-8), Lafayette Square appears fully laid 
out. Assumed to represent the lost Downing plan, the Boschke map 
shows what was eventually carried out for this space. 

In 1861 British novelist Anthony Trollope visited Washington and 
described a landscaped Lafayette Square: 

Here in front of the White House is President's Square, as it 
is generally called. The technical name is, I believe. La 
Fayette Square. The houses round it are few in number, — 
not exceeding three or four on each side, but they are 
among the best in Washington, and the whole place is neat 
and well kept. President's Square is certainly the most 
attractive part of the city. The garden of the square is 
always open, and does not seem to suffer from any public 
ill-usage. 78 


76. Seale’s article includes a photograph dating from the 1880s that documents the 
nature of the fence, the gates, and the gas lamps; Seale, "The Design of Lafayette Park," 7. 
Another photograph from the late 1880s does not clearly show if lighting fixtures topped 
the corner piers: Constance McLaughlin Green, The Church on Lafayette Square, 1815-1970 
("Washington: Potomac Books, 1970), 67. 

77. In the annual reports of the late 1850s, expenditures for Lafayette Square and Res- 
ervation No. 2 (Capitol Square and the Mall to 14th Street, including the grounds of the 
Smithsonian Institution) were usually lumped together. For example, in 1858, $8,000 
was spent on Reservation No. 2 and Lafayette Square together, and $814 )4 was spent 
on lampposts and lamps on the north, east, and west sides of the square. In 1859, $3,000 
was again spent on Reservation No. 2 and Lafayette Square, and in 1860, $2,000. Annual 
Report, Commissioner of Public Buildings, Oct. 18, 1858, 692, 700; ibid., Oct. 13, 1859, 851; 
ibid., Nov. 16, 1860, 493. 

78. Anthony Trollope, North America, 1861 , quoted in Reps, Washington on View, 72. 


97 

Chapter 3. President's Park and the Influence of the Downing Plan: 1851-1865 



President's Park South 


In 1863 Commissioner French reported that Lafayette Square was in 
admirable order and that it could be kept so at small expense under 
the daily supervision of laborers at the President's House. 79 


President's Park South 

The Ellipse was Downing's creation and is one of his most perma- 
nent legacies to the Washington landscape. Labeled "Parade or Presi- 
dent's Park/' Downing's design shows it in considerable detail as an 
open round space with a row of elm trees on its inner side. Around 
the periphery and filling in the sides and corners of the space are 
wooded groves with an intricate system of winding walks (figure 3- 
2). What little visual information has survived seems to indicate that 
the pure circle of Downing's early plan was modified into an ellipse 
during construction, possibly an even smaller one than now exists. 

The commissioners’ financial records amply document extensive 
construction work on this site under Downing's supervision in 
1851. After a hiatus due to his death and the continuing debate in 
Congress over the appropriation needed to complete the work, 
William D. Brackenridge oversaw the implementation of the plan for 
several months in late 1852 and 1853. Huge numbers of trees and 
shrubs were also planted in 1854. The sheer volume of construction 
work recorded seems to indicate that most of the funds designated 
for the south grounds in 1851 were spent on the Ellipse. However, 
having spent a large sum, the government had trouble maintaining 
it properly. During the Civil War, the Ellipse was used for barracks 
and animal grazing, and by 1863 it had become a "almost a 
desert.” 80 


79. Between November 1, 1861, and June 30, 1862, $729.30 was spent on Reservation 
No. 2 and Lafayette Square; Annual Report, Commissioner of Public buildings, Oct. 29, 1862, 
8; ibid., Oct. 13, 1863, 665. 

80. Although the commissioners' annual reports give the total amount of the 
appropriations and expenditures under the category ''Grounds South," the nature of the 
work is not detailed. In the cashbooks much more information can be found about the 
type of work carried out, and as discussed above under Lafayette Square, Downing's 
involvement is explicitly mentioned. For example, in the annual report for 1851, 
$16,681.85 is listed as the total expenditure on the "grading and planting of the grounds 
south of the President's house," out of an appropriation for that year of $10,000 and an 
unexpended balance from a former appropriation. However, the first expenditure listed 
for the grounds south of the President's House was for a messenger who carried 
Downing's plan to the President's House. This was followed by a disbursement for 
"embankment," undoubtedly fill. There was also a $25 item to P. M. Magi]], presumably 
a draftsman, for drawing a plan; by May 1851 there were regular expenditures for 
"Downing's roll" of laborers, and Downing's monthly salary of $208 was frequently 


98 

Part 1: The Evolution of President's Park 



President's Park South 


Concerns over the health of the president and the first family also 
played a role in the design of the Ellipse. In December 1851 John 
Sessford, reporting for the National Intelligencer on "material 
improvements" in the city during the year, observed that "On 
Reservation No. 1, south of the President's House, a great amount of 
work has been done in grading, draining and excavating for a 
pond." 81 

Influential social reformer Dorothea Dix also became involved. In 
April 1 852 she wrote to President Fillmore regarding the pond under 
construction on the grounds south of the President's House. In her 
letter Dix scathingly dismissed all of Downing's work (and 
incidentally the Smithsonian Institution building) and described the 
pond as "Downing's Death Hole," probably because it served as a 
mosquito breeding habitat. 82 She apparently sent a copy of the letter 
to Joseph Henry, who mildly replied, "Please accept my thanks for 
your remarks relative to the pond south of the President's house. I 
shall speak with Mr. Downing on the subject and inform him that 
this part of his plan for beautifying the public grounds has 
awakened much criticism." 83 

The debate in Congress on March 24, 1852, over the $12,000 appro- 
priation sheds considerable light on the actual appearance of the 
Ellipse or "Grounds South" at this time. Mr. Stanton of Kentucky 
was successful in having the funds restored, but he did so for public 
health reasons, primarily the president's health: 

But there is an imperative necessity for this appropriation, 
and it must be made. It is needed, because the grounds 
proposed to be improved are so low and marshy as most 
seriously to affect the health of the neighborhood. The 
sooner we can have them filled up, graded, and planted 


allocated to the "Grounds South" category. By the end of 1851 dose to $15,000 had been 
spent: $525.90 for fill, $11,214.04 for Downing's roll, $616 for Downing's salary, 
$163.96 for building and glazing a watch house, $1,709.61 for a sewer and culvert, and 
$729.34 for manure, tools and other miscellaneous items. Entries dated Mar. 19, 1851, 
Apr. 12, 1851 (for "embankment," $525.89), and May 3, 1851, Daybook 13, 67- 
Cashbooks, RC. 42, NA. For 1852 Easby reported an expenditure of $3,658.05 out of an 
appropriation of $4,000 for "improving the square south of the President's House," 
Annual Report, Commissioner of Public Buddings, Feb. 12, 1 853, 21 . 

81 . "The Sessford Annals," 349. 

82. Dix to Fillmore, Apr. 5, 118521, in Charles M. Snyder, The Lady and the President; The 
Letters of Dorothea Di\ and Millard Fillmore (Lexington, KY: 1975), 129-31. The original 
letter is in the collections of the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Sodety, Buffalo, NY. 
Copy courtesy of the Henry Papers. 

83. Henry to Dix, Apr. 7, 1852, Houghton Library, Harvard University. Copy courtesy of 
the Henry Papers. 


99 

Chapter3. President's Park arid the Influence of the Downing Plan: 1851-1865 



President's Park South 


with trees, the better it will be for the safety of the President 
and family. It is true that the work has cost already a 
considerable sum . . . but it is a work of great magnitude. A 
large, low, flat piece of ground, embracing many acres, has 
to be filled up with earth, brought from a great distance 
and necessarily at great expense. The earth in the 
neighborhood, wliich could be used for the purpose, has 
been exhausted in the work already done, and what is 
necessary to complete., it will have to be brought from 
streets now being excavated and graded in other parts of the 
city. 81 

Another Congressman stated that the pond was made for economy, 
since it was less expensive to build the pond than to cart dirt in to fill 
it. 85 

Dix was successful in her campaign to have the pond removed before 
it was fully constructed, for it was filled some time in 1 854 by order 
of the secretary of the interior at a cost of more than $6,000. In view 
of the fact that Brackenridge described this body of water as a "large 
pond, or lake," it may well have been on the Ellipse rather than on 
the grounds of the President's House. 86 The topography would 
indicate that it was on the northern part of the present Ellipse. 8 ' This 
episode also illustrates the fact that Downing made significant 
modifications to his original plan {figures 3-1 and 3-2), which does 
not show a pond anywhere in President's Park. According to Vaux, 
Downing presented the plan "with the understanding that he was to 
be at liberty to make such alterations as a further and more exact 
study of the grounds might suggest." 88 

Large expenditures were devoted to the Grounds South in 1854. 
Between February and December 1854 approximately 3,000 trees 
were ordered from a number of nurseries. 89 Even if they were used 


84. Debate of Mar. 24, 1852, the Congressional Globe: New Series, Containing the Debates, 
Proceedings and Laws of the First Session of the Thirty-second Congress, vol. 24, part 2 
(Washington, DC: John C. Rives, 1852), 853. 

85. The Congressional Globe, 854. Statement of Mr. Brooks (state not identified). 

86. Brackenridge to French, Jan. 10, 1854, in Annual Report, Commissioner of Public 
Building?, Jan. 30, 1854, 25. The estimated cost of $6,370 for filling the pond is found on 
page 26. The report for the following year does not mention an expenditure specifically for 
this filling, but it was obviously done. 

87. NP5, "Archeological Evaluation," 45. 

88. Vaux to Marshall P. Wilder, Aug. 18, 1852, J. Jay Smith collection. 

89. As was the case with Lafayette Square, the commissioner's cash books show no 
expenditures on the site in the first several months of 1852. Beginning in October 1852, 
more than $3,600 in expenditures was recorded, most of it for grading and laborers on 
Brackenridge's roll; see Daybooks 13 and 14, 67-Cashbooks, RG 42, NA. In 1853 almost 


100 

Part I: The Evolution of President's Park 



President's Park South 


for both the grounds of the President's House and the Grounds 
South, the quantity seems extraordinary, but this was an era in 
which the dictum "Plant thick. Thin quick." was frequently invoked. 
Since the trees were purchased more than a year after Downing's 
death, he was unlikely to have made up the plant list. Whether it 
represented his taste is difficult to determine. 

In his annual report of October 1854, Commissioner French reported 
the following under the heading of "Improvement of the Grounds 
South of the President's House": 

These grounds were laid out by the lamented Downing, 
under the immediate supervision of President Fillmore, and 
the improvements were commenced. 

After Downing's death, the care of the grounds was given 
to Mr. Brackenridge, and up to the time of his resignation 
the Commissioner had no charge whatever of them. As 
soon as Mr. Brackenridge resigned, the care of these 
grounds was assigned to Mr. Watt, the gardener at the 
President's [House], and the general oversight of them, and 
of all that had been under Mr. Brackenridge, was given to 
me. 

These grounds are now in a good state of improvement. 

There will be many thousand trees and shrubs planted in 
them, this autumn, and before another year they will begin 
to assume a beautiful appearance . 90 

The report made by Commissioner Blake in 1860 confirms that the 
work on the Ellipse had been completed in accordance with the 
Downing plan by the late 1850s but had been poorly maintained, 
especially in terms of drainage: 

All the public grounds that have been inclosed and 
improved are in excellent order, with the exception of the 
grounds south of the President's House, and the small 
appropriation made at the last session of Congress for 
preserving and improving them, was wholly insufficient 


$18,000 was spent on "Completing the Improvements on the Square South of the 
President's House.” Many of the trees ordered were exotic and many were conifers. In 
November 1854 almost 1,595 trees were ordered. They included 14 Paulownia imperialis, 
100 horse chestnuts, 100 European birch, 40 Magnolia acuminata, 100 European and 
American oaks, 25 each American and European linden, 12 Kentucky coffee trees, 100 
weeping willows, 100 European larch, 50 Deodar cypress, 12 Carya, 50 Catalpa 
syringifolia, 25 osage orange, 25 Vergilia, 100 Norway spruce, 25 Scotch pine, 12 
Austrian pine, and 12 silver balsam fir. Annual Report, Commissioner of Public buildings, 
Jan. 30, 1854, 10, 23. 

90. Annual Report, Commissioner of Public buildings, Oct. 5, 1854, 601. In 1857, $2,417.52 
was spent on the area south of President's House (ibid., Oct. 15, 1857, 729); in 1858, 
$2,274.28 (ibid., Oct. 18, 1858, 700); and in 1859, $2,719.71 (ibid., Oct. 13, 1859, 851). 


10J 

Chapter 3. President’s Park and the Influence of the Downing Plan: 1852-1865 



President's Park South 


for the purpose. These grounds were laid out and improved 
by the late A. J. Downing, at a heavy expense to the 
government. The blind drains and sewers are much out of 
order and discharge their functions very imperfectly. The 
consequence is, that neither grass nor shrubbery, nor trees 
grow with uniformity. In some parts they are water- 
soaked and it is with difficulty they can be kept alive. It 
stands to reason that such an extensive field, containing 
about sixty acres, beautifully laid out and planted with 
valuable trees and shrubs, with carriageways and footways 
circling and winding through it, cannot be preserved in a 
creditable condition without the annual outlay of a 
considerable sum of money.” 

The Ellipse was constructed and planted by the mid-1 850s according 
to a plan by Downing, but one that must have varied from the 
design illustrated in figure 3-2. This again indicates that the Boschke 
survey (figure 3-8) may be accurate for the period, but little visual 
documentation exists for corroboration. For this reason and because 
the Ellipse seems to have been almost completely obliterated during 
the Civil War, it is difficult to determine what its exact configuration 
and appearance would have been about 1855. However, in 1862, 
John Bachmann, considered to have been a highly accurate 
delineator, published a bird's-eye view of Washington that showed a 
layout of the Ellipse area similar to that in the Boschke map. In 
Bachmann's lithograph the land south of the wall below the 
President's House was divided into two sections, a squarish space, 
and, to its south, an elliptical space. Both spaces were open, but each 
was surrounded by heavily wooded groves. 92 

In 1861 Commissioner French reported that the Washington Canal 
had become a public nuisance filled with "rank vegetation and 
offensive soil" and an ''immense mass of fetid and corrupt matter." 
He urged that the canal be thoroughly dredged and cleaned and a 
tide-gate constructed. 93 

Between about 1861 and 1871 the Ellipse was known as "the White 
Lot" and was surrounded on three sides by board fencing, possibly 
painted white. Otherwise, the origins of the name are unclear. 


9 1 . Annual Report, Commissioner of Public Buildings, Nov. 1 6, 1 860, 487-88. 

92. Boschke’s 1861 map was considered to be so accurate that the Department of War 
seized it in 1861, after only a few impressions had been struck; Reps, Washington on View, 
138, 156-57. 

93. Annual Report, Commissioner of Public Buildings, Nov. 8, 1861, 855; between Novem- 
ber 1, 1861, and June 30, 1862, $2,029.52 was spent on the grounds south of the 
President’s House; ibid., Nov. 8, 1862, 8. 


102 

Part 1: The Evolution of President's Park 



During the Civil War, at least two and possibly as many as four 
barracks occupied the site, and cattle grazed there as well. 94 

In 1863 French echoed Blake's pessimistic appraisal of the Ellipse: 

The grounds south of the President's House, on which 
much money was expended some ten years ago, have, for 
want of money to enable the Commissioner to take care of 
and improve them, and in consequence of their having been 
converted at times into a military camping and parade 
ground, become almost a desert. To put them in decent 
order would require a larger expenditure of money than 
Congress would be willing to appropriate. So I presume 
they must be left in their present dilapidated condition. 95 

In 1864 French repeated the section from his 1861 report on the 
condition of the Washington Canal, saying that nothing had yet 
been done, despite his direct appeal to Congress with the assistance of 
Joseph Henry, secretary of the Smithsonian Institution. 96 


The Grounds of the Treasury and State Buildings 

Construction on the south and west wings of the Treasury Building 
began in July 1855. Since Robert Mills, the original architect had left 
government service in 1841, Thomas Ustick Walter, who closely 
followed Mills's lead, prepared preliminary drawings. Ammi B. 
Young, an architect from Boston, supervised the work. The south 
wing was completed by September 1861 and the west wing in 
1864. 97 Between 1851 and 1865 the grounds around the Treasury 
Building were used for construction activities, and although 
landscape schemes were published (see figure 2-8), no serious 
proposals for the grounds seem to have been made at this time. 
However, in 1863 iron railing and two iron gates, located south of 


94. Stranger's Guide to Washington, D.C.: The City as Mr. Lincoln Knew It (Washington, DC: 
T. Loftin Snell, Double Dot Press, 1968, reprint of 1865 edition). (Neither the original 1865 
edition of this publication nor the 1968 reprint has been located in the Library of Congress, 
the Harvard University Library system, the Boston Metro Library system, or the Boston 
Athenaeum. A map was made up for the reprint edition, which is interesting but of 
questionable accuracy.) See also Richard M. Lee, Mr. Lincoln's City: An Illustrated Guide to the 
Civil War Sites of Washington (McLean, VA: EPM Publications, Inc., 1981), 121. 

95. Annual Report, Commissioner of Public Buildings, Oct. 13, 1863, 665. 

96. Annual Report, Commissioner of Public Buildings, Nov. 8, 1864, 686-87. 

97. Betty Bird, "Overview of the Architectural History of the U. S. Treasury Building," 
Sept. 6, 1984, 8. 


The Grounds of the Treasury and 
State Buildings 


103 

Chapter 3. President's Park and the Influence of the Downing Plan: 1851-1865 



Summary 


the Treasury (currently Hamilton Place), were purchased and 
installed in conjunction with the extension of the building. 98 


The Grounds of the War and Navy Buildings 

Overcrowding remained a serious problem in the War and Navy 
Buildings, especially during the Civil War. Two floors were added to 
both buildings in 1862 as an emergency measure, and an ell was 
added to Old Navy. The photograph in figure 3-14 shows Old War 
(front) and Old Navy (rear). While undated, the picture was taken 
before the regrading and paving of 1 7th Street in 1870. It also shows 
some venerable elm trees; their removal in 1879 aroused protest. 99 


Summary 

Between 1851 and 1865 the White House grounds became more 
fully developed, and an attempt was made to implement some 
elements of Downing's plan for the public grounds of Washington. 
At Downing's suggestion iron fencing was purchased to enclose the 
President's House, and iron gates were installed at the northeast and 
northwest corners of the President's House. In addition, a new watch 
house and a short-lived greenhouse were built, as well as a new 
conservatory on top of the western terrace. 

The screening plantings recommended by Downing were never in- 
stalled and the need to provide privacy for the president and his 
family remained an issue. The conservatory was the only area that 
provided a certain measure of seclusion for the president and his 
family. To partially remedy this situation, a fence and two gates 
were installed east and west of the north portico. Plans to remove the 
Jefferson wall were articulated. The idea of adding the current south 
lawn began to be discussed in earnest. Consideration was also given 
to building a new executive mansion at a healthier location. 

Between ca. 1851 and 1853, Lafayette Square was laid out and 
planted according to the Downing plan. Downing himself apparently 
supervised the work. The 1853 unveiling of the Andrew Jackson 


98, The iron railing was purchased from Hutchinson and Wickersham of New York 
City, who had supplied simitar railing for the White House grounds in 1851; voucher no. 
1 , Treasury Extension, Aug. 1 9, 1 863, Office of the Curator (OC)/Treasury. 

99. Lehman, et at, "Executive Office Building," 20-23. 


104 

Part I: The Evolution of President's Park 



Summary 


statue marked the beginning of commemorative activities. That same 
year an iron fence with light fixtures was installed around the 
square. The fence itself would be removed in 1888, but its 
foundation was recently rediscovered. Despite three later phases of 
rehabilitation and redesign, important elements of the Downing plan 
still remain today, which means that today's Lafayette Park may be 
one of the few surviving Downing-designed landscapes. 

In the 1850s the Ellipse was also developed according to a modified 
version of Downing's original plan, partially implemented under his 
supervision, and completed after his death. During the Civil War, 
however, its use for wartime activities severely damaged the layout 
and the new plantings. At this time it was called the White Lot, as it 
was surrounded on three sides by board fencing, apparently painted 
white. 

Between 1851 and 1865 substantial progress was made on the 
construction of the Treasury Building, but little appears to have been 
accomplished on the surrounding grounds. Landscaping of the War 
and Navy Buildings did not attract much attention at a time when 
the nation was experiencing one of its most profound crises. 

President's Park continued to attract talented designers. Andrew J. 
Downing and Thomas U. Walter were among those who left 
indelible marks on the landscape of the site. Downing’s designs for 
Lafayette Square and the Ellipse, as well as his plan for the public 
grounds of Washington, influenced the evolution of President's Park 
for decades. Walter, following Robert Mills's basic concept, prepared 
the drawings for the south and west wings of the Treasury Building. 


205 

Chapter 3. President's Park and the Influence of the Downing Plan: 1851-1 8 65 





IMW'HC niOPQMI MCTHOO 

a# « it 

E PU&UC GROUNDS 
WASHINGTON 


Figure 3-1 : Plan Showing Proposed Method of haying Out the Public Grounds at Washington, P C Andrew Jackson Downing, 
1851. Copy from the original plan to accompany the Annual Report, 1867. National Archives, Cartographic and 
Architectural Records, Records of the Office of the Chief of Engineers, Record Group 77. 


Chapter 3. President's Park and the Influence of the Downing Plan I85J 1805 







Figure 3-2: Detail of Plan allowing Proposed Method of Laying Out the 
Public Grounds at Washington, P C Andrew Jackson Downing, 1851. 
Copy from the original plan to accompany the Annual Report. 1867. 
National Archives, Cartographic and Architectural Records, Records of 
the Office of the Chief of Engineers, Record Group 77. 



108 

Past I: The Evouiuon of Pkesiuent's Park 







Figure 3-3: Detail of Map of the City of Washington, D.C. James Keily. Published by 
l.loyd Van Derveer, Camden, New Jersey, 1851. Library of Congress, Geography 
and Maps Division. 



109 

Chapter 3. President's Park and the Influence of the Downing Plan: 1851-18 65 





Figure 3 4: The White House from the Southwest. B. B. French (photograph), 1857. Library of Congress, Prints and 
Photographs Division. 


110 

Part I: The Evouetion of President's Parc 








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Figure 3-5: North Front of the White I louse Photograph, prc-1857 Office of the Curator, The While House. 


One of the earliest known photographs of the north front. 



Ill 

Chapter 3. President's Park and the Influence of the Downing Plan: 1851-1865 






Figure 3-6: North Front of the President's House with the Jefferson Statue in the Foreground. Photograph, ca. 1857. 
National Park Service, Office of White House Liaison. 




112 

Part I: The Evolution of President's Park 




Figure 3-7: South Grounds of the President’s House with the Jefferson Wall. Attributed to Matthew Brady (photograph), 
ca. 1861. National Archives, Still Pictures, Records of the Office of the Chief Signal Officer, Record Group 111. 


113 

Chapter 3 President's Park and the Influence of the Downing Plan 1851 I8t>5 





HM? I 


Figure 3-8: Map of the District of Columbia. Surveyed in the Years 1856, 1857, 1858 A 1 859. A Bosrhke. 
Published by D. McClelland, Blanchard and Mohun, Washington, D.C. 1861. Library of Congress, 
Geography and Maps Division. 


Part I: The EvoumoN of President's Park 





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116 

Pakt I The Evolution or Pkesidect’* Pakk 









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Figure 3-12: View of the White House from the Southeast. Matthew Brady (photograph), 1862. Private Collection of 
Set Momjian. 


118 

Part 1: The Evolution of President's Park 







Figure 3-13: Mills's Colossal Equestrian Statue of General Andrew Jackson. Casimir Bochn, ca. 1853. Lithograph by Thomas 
Sinclair, 1858. Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division. 


119 

Chapter 3. President's Park and the Influence of the Downing Plan: 1851 I8h5 





Figure 3- 14: Old War Building and Old Navy Building. Photograph, prc-1870. National Archives, Still Pictures, Records of the 
Office of Public Buildings and Public Parks, Record Group 42 


The War Building is in the front; the Navy Building behind. 



120 

Pari I: The Evolution oi President's Park 





Chapter 4. President's Park and the Army 
Corps of Engineers: 1865-1901 


B etween 1865 and 1901 the grounds of the White House 
received a lot of attention. Important modifications took 
place on both sides of the Executive Mansion as East and 
West Executive Avenues were completed. Lafayette Square 
continued to undergo regular maintenance and repair, while major 
landscaping was carried out on the Ellipse. The north wing of the 
Treasury Building was completed, and landscaping plans were ap- 
proved. A new State, War, and Navy Building, the largest office 
building in Washington at the time, was built. Landscaping plans for 
the complex appear to have been developed, but it is not clear if they 
were implemented. 1 

During the Grant administration, the grounds of the President's 
House were extended farther south, a new system of roads and 
walkways was developed, and the landscape began to reflect the use 
of bright-colored bedding plants and other showy garden effects 
popular at the time. The Jefferson wall was finally taken down 
around 1871, when West Executive Avenue was completed and 
joined with East Executive Avenue in a semicircle at approximately 
the present location. The east-west drive just below the Jefferson 
wall was also removed, and a new private drive was constructed at 
the same location as the present-day drive. New iron fencing was 
installed around the enlarged south grounds to match that on the 
north side, and the latter was repaired and in some places replaced. In 
1871 granite steps 20 feet wide were constructed at West Executive 
Avenue, north of the existing greenhouses. Between 1872 and 1874 a 
permanent bandstand was established in the center panel of the 
south lawn. It was removed in 1878 due to its deteriorated 
condition. 


1. In March 1867 Congress abolished the position of commissioner of the public 
buildings, and the duties were transferred to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The 
officers in charge of public buildings and grounds during this period were Nathaniel 
Michler (1867-71), Orville Babcock (1871-77), Thomas Lincoln Casey (1877-81), Almon 
F. Rockwell (1881-85), John M. Wilson (1885-89), Oswald H. Ernst (1889-93), John M. 
Wilson (1893-97), and Theodore A. Bingham (1897-1903); Dowd, Records of Public 
Buildings and Public Parks, 37-39. 


121 

Chapter 4. President’s Park and the Army Corps of Engineers: 1865-1901 



President Rutherford B. Hayes and his wife continued the tradition of 
presidents who influenced the evolution of the landscape of 
President's Park. During the Hayes administration the dilapidated 
Marine bandstand was removed from the south lawn, and another 
important popular use that has continued to the present was 
initiated — the Easter egg roll. In 1879 many of the gravel and 
concrete roadways established earlier in the decade in the lower south 
lawn were removed and the space converted into lawn. The mostly 
unused gateway at the southern end of the south lawn was also 
removed; as a result the iron railing and foot walk on this portion of 
the grounds were made continuous. 

Throughout this period several proposals were made to address the 
problem of overcrowding at the President's House. Efforts in this 
regard continued almost uninterrupted until the end of the century. 
The poor condition of the White House itself and less than 
satisfactory sanitary conditions of the Tiber Canal led to the prepara- 
tion of a study of alternative sites, looking to the eventual relocation 
of the presidential residence. Security was also an issue. Lafayette 
Square was guarded since Lincoln's assassination, and concerns 
increased after the shooting of President James A. Garfield in 1881. 
Privacy for the first family led to strict limits on public visitation. 

In the 1870s an extensive gas lighting program was undertaken in 
Washington. It was regarded as both functional and attractive. A 
variety of cast-iron lampposts were installed. They ranged from 
classically simple to extravagantly complex. Electric lighting became 
feasible the following decade, and it was chosen to highlight the 
inaugural festivities of 1881. Later that year electric lights briefly 
illuminated Pennsylvania Avenue, but electric lighting did not 
become permanent until arc lights were installed in 1885. 

Public use of the Ellipse appears to have been less than expected. A 
portion had been set aside for children's lawn games, but only two 
applications for playing tennis, croquet, or cricket were received, and 
neither was used. Permission was frequently sought to play sports 
far more damaging to the grounds — baseball and football — but 
these sports were not then allowed. 

Plans continued to be developed for the various components of 
President's Park, but most were only partially implemented. 
Commissioner Nathaniel Michler urged the return to the principles of 
the L'Enfant plan, which had been ignored for several decades. 


122 

PartI: The Evolution of President's Park 



The Grounds of the White House 


The Grounds of the White House 


In 1852 Thomas U. Walter had proposed streets at the locations of 
what later became known as East and West Executive Avenues. East 
Executive Avenue was put through in 1866 and West Executive 
Avenue in 1871. They were connected to each other by the road at 
the south of the grounds of the President's House. 

After the completion of the west wing of the Treasury Building in 
1864, and especially after the construction of East Executive Avenue 
two years later, the east side of the President's House appeared to 
lack a distinctive facade and an appropriate entrance. In 1866 
Commissioner Benjamin French consulted Alfred B. Mullett, who 
recommended the demolition of the existing east wing. Mullett 
designed a formal east entrance to the grounds, with a pool, 
fountain, central steps, and a walk leading to a new one-story 
colonnade on the eastern side of the building shown in a stereograph 
from ca. 1870 (figure 4-1). 2 The central steps divided after one flight. 
A second set of steps ended in two gates (one facing north and the 
other facing south), which in turn led to two walks, one continuing 
toward the north grounds, the other toward the south grounds. 
With this new public entrance, the need to control access to the 
Executive Mansion became evident. Three sets of gates regulated the 
entrance to the grounds on the north and east sides: (1) the north 
and northeast gates at Pennsylvania Avenue, which are still in place 
today; (2) the 1851 gates facing east and west and located closer to 
the north portico, where the anthemion parapet railing met the 
outer, lighter railing that lined the southern edge of the semicircular 
carriageway; and (3) the two gates at the east entrance previously 
described. 

It is probable that at this time new fencing was installed. On the east 
side of the Executive Mansion the lighter, higher fencing that edged 
the south side of the carriageway was extended along the side of the 
house to the southernmost colonnade of the newly built east 
entrance. From that point an iron mesh fence ran alongside the 
house, continued along the driveway on the south side, bordered the 
conservatory area, and extended all the way west until it met the 
West Executive Avenue fence. 3 


2. Mullet also prepared a plan to improve all the grounds around the President's 
House, but it was not implemented. Seale, The President's House, 433; Annual Report, 
Commissioner of Public Buildings, Oct. 30, 1866, 547^48. For Alfred B. Mullett, see Dolkart, 
The Old Executive Office Building. 

3. Information courtesy of Krause (ESFAVHly'NPS), June 1 6, 2000. 


123 

Chapter 4. President’s Park and the Army Corps of Engineers; 1865-1 901 



The Grounds of the White House 


With the end of the Civil War, the gala receptions of the pre-war 
years returned. The Marine Band was kept busy, and President and 
Mrs. Johnson supported and greatly helped the organization. The 
Marine Band programs were one of the few events the frail Mrs. 
Johnson could enjoy, as she could see and hear the band as it played 
under her window on the lawn. 1 

One of the most unusual programs took place on the south lawn of 
the President's House on July 28, 1866. It combined a gymnastic 
exhibition with an instrumental concert. The Marine Band provided 
the music for the gymnasts, and a clever system of identification 
was devised to let the audience know which pieces were being 
played. 5 

The conservatory and other parts of the west terrace were being 
repaired in January 1867, when the conservatory burned. Most of 
the plants were destroyed, either by fire or by being carried outdoors 
in the freezing weather. .Among them was a sago palm that had 
belonged to George Washington and had been brought from Mount 
Vernon by Andrew Jackson. Greenhouse specialists submitted plans 
for a new structure with a frame of fireproof cast iron. The plans 
were rejected because of cost, but to some extent they served as a 
model for the conservatory that was rebuilt in 1867-68. Under the 
direction of Alexander McKericher, chief gardener after the departure 
of George McLeod, the rebuilt greenhouse was stocked with plants 
from Philadelphia and Long Island nurseries. 6 

In March 1867 Congress abolished the office of the commissioner of 
public buildings. From that date until 1933 control of federal land 
and buildings in Washington, D.C., came under the jurisdiction of 
the newly created Office of Public Buildings and Grounds under the 
Army Corps of Engineers. Commissioner French's responsibilities 
were taken over by Maj. Nathaniel Michler, Corps of Engineers. Early 
in 1867, before the transfer was made, Michler was asked to report 
on a site for a public park and a new presidential mansion. 7 For the 
new park, Michler strongly supported the valley of Rock Creek, with 
its "grand old trees" and "bold, rapid streams." For the presidential 
mansion, he examined four sites, including "Harewood" {the country 
home of W. W. Corcoran, east of the Capitol), which he seemed to 


4. Kirk, Music at the White House, 99. 

5 . Kirk, Music at the While House, 1 00. 

6. Annual Report, Commissioner of Public Buildings, Oct. 12, 1865, 3; Seale, The President's 
House, 433-34, 447, notes 34 and 59; Seaie, The White House, 116. 

7. Seale, The President's House, 451-52. 


124 

PartI: The Evolution of President's Park 



favor, and the home of Moncuse Robinson {adjoining the United 
States Military Asylum), which he also liked. 8 Rock Creek Park even- 
tually became a reality, but a suburban presidential mansion did not. 

While he never mentioned L'Enfant by name in his annual reports, 
Michler's respect for the integrity of the original plan is evident. In 
1868 he derided current intrusions and complained that these 
violations hindered travel and blocked vistas. During this period he 
reported favorably on the condition of the grounds of the President's 
House but urged immediate attention to the south grounds. 9 

During Ulysses S. Grant's two-term administration the grounds of 
the President's House were extended farther south, a new system of 
roads and walkways was developed, and the landscape began to 
reflect the use of bright-colored bedding plants and other showy 
garden effects popular at the time. First Lady Julia Grant reputedly 
loved the Executive Mansion and brought improvements to the 
grounds, but wanted greater privacy for her family. 10 

Early in the Grant presidency the Jefferson wall was still in place, 
although cut down to half its original height. The wall was finally 
taken down around 1871, when West Executive Avenue was 
completed and joined with East Executive Avenue in a semicircle at 
approximately the present location. The east-west drive just below 
the Jefferson wall was also removed, and a new east-west private 
drive was constructed about 15 feet to its north, at the same location 
as the present-day drive. 11 

In his report for 1869 Michler described a great deal of repair work 
on the President's House and the addition of a "grapery" to the 
conservatory. He also mentioned unspecified "beneficial changes" in 


8. N. Michler, "Communication . . . relative to a suitable site for a public and presidential 
mansion," January 29, 1 867; Seale, Ihe President's House, 450-52. The 200-acre grounds at 
Harewood had been laid out by John Saul, but the house had not been built. Corcoran, a 
southern sympalliizer, left Lhe country during the Civil War, after which the government 
tried unsuccessfully to seize his property on Lafayette Square. See Dictionary of American 
Biography, 1930, s.v. "Corcoran, William Wilson," 440-41; and Saul, "Tree Culture," 54 
According to Saul, Harewood later became the Soldiers' Home. 

9. A major part of the report was devoted to the improvement of the major streets in 
Washington and was illustrated with proposed cross sections for Washington streets and 
comparative cross sections of Unter den Linden in Berlin and the Champs Elysees in Paris. 
Michler, "Report," in Annual Report, Chief of Engineers, 1867, 524; ibid., 1868, 9; ibid., 1869, 
498; Leach and Barthold, "L'Enfant Plan of the City of Washington" sec. 8, p. 20, 

10. Seale, The President's House, 463; Sarah Amy Leach and Elizabeth Barthold, Reservation 
No. 1: White House Grounds and Ellipse, Historic American Buildings Survey, No. DC-689, 
1993, p. 7. 

11. Seale, The President's I louse, 463, 483, 503, note 32. 


The Grounds of the White House 


125 

Chapter4. President’s Park and the Army Corps of Engineers: 1865-1901 



The Grounds of the white House the garden. 12 By 1869 the small sea serpent fountain in the northern 

part of the south lawn had been replaced with a lower rockpile 
fountain, probably in the same basin. 13 

In his report for 1870-71 Michler observed that no material changes 
had taken place on the grounds and that they had been kept in as 
good order as possible, with the walks raked and rolled and the grass 
regularly trimmed. He noted that the completion of the "Executive 
Avenue," which was then under construction in connection with the 
new State, War, and Navy Building around the south and west sides 
of the President's House, would necessitate changes in the grounds. 
He also reported that the fountain (at this time only the small sea 
serpent fountain on the northern part of the south lawn was in 
place) had been re-cemented and new jets installed. The 1864 stable 
was also enlarged to accommodate additional horses. 14 In 1871-72 
this stable had to be taken down to allow for the construction of the 
new State, War, and Navy Building. A new stable was built just 
south of the new complex on 1 7th Street opposite E Street, placing it 
within the Ellipse rather than on the grounds of the President's 
House. A handsome building with a fence in the forecourt and two 
piers lining the entryway, it would stand until 1911 when it was 
demolished. 15 However, maintenance, repairs, and additions to the 
1872 stable continued to be listed under the grounds of the 
President's House in the annual reports. 

Orville E. Babcock succeeded Michler as officer in charge. His report 
for 1871-72 indicates that substantial work had been completed on 
Executive Avenue and that some of the fill had been used for the 
White Lot (Ellipse). The avenue was opened through to Pennsylvania 
Avenue, at a location opposite today's Jackson Place, and a gate was 
erected at the western entrance to the avenue to match the one at the 
eastern side. Lampposts were also installed. The construction of 
Executive Avenue made it necessary to remove the "forcing house" 
on the grounds of the President's House, but it was rebuilt using the 
original materials. The construction activity on Executive Avenue 
understandably caused considerable disruption to the south grounds 
of the President's House, all of which was promptly repaired. 


12. Michler, "Report," in Annual Report, Chief of Engineers, Sept. 30, 1869, 501-2. 

13. File, "Fountains," OC/WH. 

14. Michler, "Report, " in Annual Report, Chief of Engineers, Sept. 13, 1871, 977. 

15. File and photographs, "White House Stables and Garages,” Aug. 10, 1992, OC/WH. 
The footprint of the 1872 stable can be seen in J. Stewart's 1889 plan of President's Park, a 
detail of which is illustrated in figure 14 of NPS "Archeological Evaluation." There are also 
photographs of this stable at the OC/WH and ESF/WHL/NPS. 


126 

Part I: The Evolution of President's Park 



The Grounds of the White House 


Babcock reported that these "inclosed grounds" had been graded, 
sown with grass seed and oats, and rolled. In addition, new walks 
were made and existing ones repaired. Surface drainage was put in at 
either side of the walks, and water pipes were also carried into the 
grounds. More than 60 trees of different varieties, varying from 3 to 
8 inches in diameter, were transplanted from other reservations, 
including Lafayette Square, where they had become too crowded. In 
addition, a new 73-foot flagpole was put up. 16 

When East and West Executive Avenues were cut through, a fence 
was installed beginning at East Executive Avenue; as the south 
grounds were expanded, the entire area was eventually fenced. This 
fence (along East and West Executive Avenues) would remain in 
place until the 1930s. As the fence was being erected, three gates 
with piers were built. The southwest and the southeast gates were at 
the same location as they are today. The third gate, at the southern- 
most center point of the fence, was removed by the late 1870s.’ 7 

At this time the circular drive in front of the Executive Mansion had 
two fences. The outer fence (closest to the house) was the simpler 
and higher rail fence built in 1851. The inner fence was the 
anthemion railing built in 1829. Both of these fences were removed 
in 1872, thus increasing the view and making the north lawn appear 
more extensive. 18 

In 1872-73 Babcock reported major repairs to the greenhouse, in- 
cluding a new brick floor with greater structural stability than the 
previous wooden one. An iron framework for the greenhouse super- 
structure was planned to replace the wooden one but was not 
immediately installed because of cost. To the north, the old iron fence 
surrounding the inner circle of the driveway was taken out 
(apparently a continuation of work begun the previous year) and a 
granite curb put in its place, thus relieving this part of the landscape 
of a "contracted, gloomy, and close appearance." The drive was also 
graded and graveled, and the water supply from the Potomac was 
reconnected. (This water supply was used primarily for the 


16. Annual Report , Chief of Engineers, 1872, "Appendix Y," 5-6, 9-10. It is unclear exactly 
what the "forcing house" was; it sounds like a place where plants were forced, but this 
would have been done in the greenhouses. 

1 7. Information courtesy of Krause (ESF/WHL/NPS), June 16, 2000. 

1 8. Annual Report, Chief of Engineers, 1872, "Appendix Y," 6. 


127 

Chapter 4. President’s Park and the Army Corps of Engineers: 1 865-1 901 



The Grounds of the white House fountains on the grounds, watering the grounds, toilets and hand 

basins, dishwashing, etc., since springwater was used for drinking). 19 

The following year Babcock noted that replacing the wooden 
superstructure in the greenhouse with an iron one would cost 
$50,000, so this work was deferred until an additional appropriation 
could be made beyond the previous year's appropriation of $10,000. 
He also indicated that wild garlic, a problem on the grounds as well 
as at some other reservations, had been removed. For the first time, 
accurate maps were apparently prepared of the various reservations, 
including the grounds around the President's House. On these maps, 
roadways and walks, fountains, drinking fountains, drains, and gas 
and water pipes were indicated, as well as trees and shrubs with the 
common and scientific names for each. 20 

In 1874-75 the statue of Thomas Jefferson, placed in front of the 
President's House in 1848, was repaired and reinstalled in Statuary 
Hall (the Old House of Representatives) in the Capitol. Babcock again 
recommended that the superstructure of the greenhouse be rebuilt of 
iron and observed that the grounds around the President's House had 
been kept in good order. With the removal of the Jefferson statue, a 
new fountain with a brick and cement basin was added on the north 
grounds. A plan for a parterre of flowers around this fountain, 
drawn by John Stewart, U. S. surveyor, is illustrated in figure 4-2. 
An annotation on the plan indicates that Stewart himself imple- 
mented the design beginning September 18, 1873, although the 
Jefferson statue still would have been there at that time. As with 
most parterres, the flowers would have been set out on a yearly or 
seasonal basis, but the plantings are first recorded in 1874-75. 
Ailanthus trees and white poplars had begun to overshadow more 
valuable trees and were removed. The fountain immediately to the 
south of the President's House was repaired and fitted with a new jet. 
George H. Brown was appointed landscape gardener and purchased 
trees in nurseries in Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois, and 
other states. To the north of the President’s House new trees replaced 
old and decaying "soft" maples that had been damaged in a severe 
windstorm on July 4, 1874. Others were set out in the White Lot 
(Ellipse), as well as in the "inclosed" grounds. 21 


19. Annual Report, Commissioner of Public Buildings, 1873, 9-10. Apparently this annual 
report was not included in the annual report of the chief of engineers. 

20. No maps of this description and date have been located; Annual Report, Chief of 
Engineers, 1874, "Appendix BB," 10-11, 13. 

21. Annual Report, Chief of Engineers, 1874, 1875, "Appendix HH," 8-9, 10-11, 14, 15-16. 


128 


PART 1: THE EVOLUTION OF PRESIDENT'S PARK 



The following year a new fountain was installed in the lower portion 
of the south grounds. The bowl was the second largest in the city 
and included a French fountain jet composed of over 500 small 
sprays. The flagstones in many of the walks around the President's 
House were relaid. 22 

In June 1877 a visitor from New York State described the grounds of 
the President's House. Her first-person account provides a good 
description as they appeared at the beginning of the Hayes 
administration. The fountains fascinated her: 

Near the Mansion a gravelled walk winds from one side to 
the other among the trees, while the lower part of the 
grounds, more open than that nearer the house, is separated 
from it by a carriage-road. There are two fountains, one in 
each division. In the one nearest the house the water is 
thrown up in a multitude of fine streams which fall like the 
drops of a sudden summer shower, or are blown into a 
cloud of spray, sweeping far beyond the basin. . . . 

The fountain in the lower part of the grounds rises higher, 
in a slenderer column, and falls back into a circular, shallow 
pool with a pebbly edge, where come the jolly sparrows to 
make their morning toilets. 

If we pass round to the front of the White house, we find 
still another fountain, perhaps the most beautiful of them 
all. The water springs in a multitude of jets, from a cluster 
of mock plants, twelve or fifteen feet into the air, and 
resolves itself into millions of drops which fall in a swift 
plashing rain into the scalloped basin. The center jet is 
heavier and higher, and in the moonlight or starlight I have 
often seen it flashing like the gleam of a shining blade, 
when the rest of the fountain was quite invisible. 23 

The fountain at East Executive Avenue also impressed her because the 
water spray took the form of three plumes "like the crest of the 
Prince of Wales, on a gigantic scale." 24 The parterre in front of the 
house was removed during the Hayes administration, and the same 
visitor from New York seemed to regret it: 


22. Annua! Report, Commissioner of Public Buildings, 1876, "Appendix GG," 4, 18-19. 
Babcock became embroiled in various scandals of the Grant administration and left Iris 
position a few days before the inauguration of Grant's successor, Rutherford B. Hayes; 
Seale The President's House, 482-64, 496. 

23. Adele G., “Our Washington Letter," Rockland Journal, June 9, 1877, 1. The author 
seems to be describing the French gurg fountain, which was moved from the lower south 
grounds to the north grounds sometime early in the- Hayes administration. See "File on 
White House Fountains," OCAVH. 

24. Adele G., "Our Washington Letter," 1. 


The Grounds of the White House 


129 

Chapter 4. President's Park and the Army Corps of Engineers: 1865-1901 



The Grounds of the White House 


Under the new regime, the flower-beds in the shapes of 
horse-shoes, stars, crescents, &c, which last year variegated 
this lawn, are banished, and sod from the common has 
taken their place. It may be an improvement, but those of 
the passers-by who love color for its own sake will miss the 
bright flowers. To be sure, petunias, lady-slippers, old 
maids, and phlox were apt to predominate, but as autumn 
came on the scarlet geranium and salvia made a brave 
show, the rich brown and deep crimson of the foliage 
plants, tempered the brilliant hues, while the "dusty miller" 
borders furnished a soft and pleasant gray to complete the 
harmony. 25 

President Hayes and his wife were committed gardeners, so it is not 
surprising that a considerable amount was accomplished on the 
grounds during his administration. On May 1, 1877, Henry Pfister, 
a horticulturist from Cincinnati, replaced James Nokes as gardener. 
By 1880 Pfister had hired a gardening staff of ten. President Hayes 
initiated the annual Easter egg roll on the south lawn in 1879. 
Because of assassination threats, public access to the grounds was 
strictly limited, and the Hayeses spent little time there, except to play 
croquet. Unlike his predecessor, President Hayes was not particularly 
enamored of either fountains or parterres. He had the small fountain 
on the upper part of the south lawn removed to put in a croquet 
lawn. In addition to eliminating Stewart's parterre on the north 
lawn, he had the elaborate French fountain jet moved from the lower 
fountain on the south lawn to the fountain on the north. He did, 
however, retain the parterres of roses and winding gravel paths on 
the south side of the President's House between the building and the 
drive. Thousands of tulip bulbs were imported from Holland. Under 
Hayes the conservatory was greatly enlarged, and a new rose house 
was constructed on the site of the present Rose Garden. It was in the 
conservatory and rose house rather than on the grounds that the 
Hayeses enjoyed family life and indulged their love of plants. 26 In 
March 1878 President Hayes planted an American elm near the 
northwest entrance to the grounds. 27 

Thomas Lincoln Casey replaced Orville Babcock in March 1877. 28 
Casey's report for the fiscal year 1877-78 describes the removal of 


25. Adele G., "Our Washington Letter," 1. 

26. Seale, The President's House, 502-6; NPS, "The President's Garden," 41-42. 

27. File, "Trees Planted by Presidents in White House Grounds," OC/WH. Recent plans of 
the commemorative trees do not show this dm. 

28. Casey's first report covered only four months and consisted primarily of recom- 
mendations. Annual Report, Chief of Engineers, 1877, "Appendix KK2 and 3." 


130 


PART 1: THE EVOLUTION OF PRESIDENT'S PARK 



The Grounds of the White House 


both the small fountain on the upper lawn and the "dilapidated" 
bandstand in the middle of the south lawn, where Fredrika Bremer 
and others had enjoyed weekly Marine Band concerts during 
summer since the Tyler administration. He also noted the addition of 
some new flower beds. 29 Even though the bandstand was removed, it 
is quite likely that concerts in the south lawn continued since Casey 
purchased seats for the public and had them installed in the south 
portion of President's Park. 30 

In 1878-79 Casey called attention to the muddy condition of the 
drives leading to the front entrance of the President's House in winter 
and spring and recommended that they be paved. He also reported 
removing "unused gravel and concrete beds of roadways through the 
center of the semi-circular inclosure south of the Executive Mansion" 
and converting the area to grass. 31 It is possible that these were 
remnants of some of the roadways constructed as part of Downing's 
"Grounds South" in the early 1850s; but after the southern 
extension of the grounds of the President's House, they became part 
of those grounds. 32 

In 1879 many of the gravel and concrete roadways established ear- 
lier in the decade in the lower south lawn were removed and the 
space converted into lawn. The mostly unused gateway at the 
southern end of the south lawn was also removed, allowing the iron 
fence and foot walk on this portion of the grounds to be made 
continuous. 33 

During fiscal year 1879-80 the rose house was completed and the 
conservatory was extended up to the west wall of the main building. 
A thick belt of evergreen trees was planted around the stables to 
screen them from the ornamental grounds. Casey again urged the 
paving of the north drives. An attached report on water supply 


29. Annual Report, Chief of Engineers, 1878, "Appendix KK," 1347. 

30. Annual Report, Chief of Engineers, 1880, 2339, 

31. Annual Report, Chief of Engineers, 1879, "Appendix LL," 1879, 1882. 

32. For a discussion of the 1873 "Premium Map" of the city of Washington, compiled by 
Joseph Enthoffer and published by E. F. M. Fachtz and Fred. W. Pratt, see NPS, "Archeo- 
logical Evaluation," 42, figure 12. This map shows paths and drives, including a small 
ellipse at the southern end, in the "Grounds South" area. However, there are many 
uncertainties about the President's Park section of this map, and further study would be 
necessary before it could be accepted as an accurate representation of the Ellipse area or even 
the White House grounds in 1873. 

33. Annual Report, Chief of Engineers, 1879, "Appendix LL," 1879. 


131 

Chapter 4. President's Park and the Army Corps of Engineers: 1865-1901 



The Grounds of the white House indicated that the fountains on the grounds, if operated around the 

clock, would use 487,249 gallons of Potomac water daily. 34 

In March 1881 James A. Garfield became president, and Col. Almon 
F. Rockwell, a Garfield family friend, became officer in charge. 
During Garfield's only spring in the President's House dazzling 
displays of tulips continued, as in the Hayes administration. 35 

On September 19, 1881, after Garfield died, Chester A. Arthur was 
sworn into office. Arthur, a widower, did not seem to have a great 
interest in gardens but he inherited First Lady Lucretia Garfield's 
plans for a thorough overhaul of the interior of the President's 
House. Upon closer scrutiny the building appeared to be in such bad 
shape that Michler's study of alternative sites, prepared almost 15 
years earlier, was reconsidered. It was becoming evident that over- 
crowding was a major issue in the Executive Residence. However, 
nothing was undertaken at this time other than renovation and 
interior decoration. At the President's House, Henry Pfister remained 
gardener, and George H. Brown, public gardener. 36 

For 1881-82 Rockwell did not identify any specific work on the 
grounds, but he noted that the stable and conservatories had been 
repaired. 37 In 1882-83 he reported that the stables had been enlarged 
and that further maintenance had been made to the conservatories. 
The iron fence at the north of the property was also painted and 
gilded. 38 In 1883 a new 40-foot stone-coped basin, larger than the 
previous one, was installed for the fountain north of the President's 
House to accommodate the full force of the jet. 39 Again in 1883-84, 
little was reported besides routine repairs to the stables and 
conservatories. However, Rockwell remarked that a plank walk that 
had been laid across the east-west road within the "inclosed" grounds 
was removed in the spring. 40 

In May 1885, following President Grover Cleveland's inauguration, 
John M. Wilson succeeded Rockwell. 41 Flenry Pfister remained as 


34. Annual Report, Chief of Engineers, 1880, "Appendix NN," 2342, 2356. 

35. NPS, "The President's Garden," 43. 

36. Seale, The President's House, 529-51; Seale, The White House, 145-47; NPS, "The 
President's Garden," 44. 

37. Annual Report, Chief of Engineers, 1881, "Appendix QQ," 2739. 

38. Annual Report, Chief of Engineers, 1883, "Appendix RR," 2102. 

39. File, "White House Fountains," CXyWH. 

40. Annual Report, Chief of Engineers, 1884, "Appendix SS," 2340, 2347. 

41 . Dowd, Records of Public Buildings and Public Parks, 39. 


132 


PART 1: THE EVOLUTION OF PRESIDENT'S PARK 



The Grounds of the White House 


gardener at the White House and George H. Brown as the public 
gardener. 42 During his first administration Cleveland appears to have 
spent little time outdoors. After his marriage to Frances Folsom, he 
b u ilt a house, known as Red Top, in what later became known as 
Cleveland Park. Here, the Clevelands spent summers and weekends. 43 

Wilson's report for 1884-85 noted routine care to the conservatories 
and the stables. 44 The next year continued attention was paid to the 
conservatories, as well as routine grounds maintenance. A small plan 
of President's Park was appended to the report, encompassing every- 
thing except Lafayette Square, but it is not very detailed. 45 Electric 
lighting became feasible during this period, and it was chosen for the 
inaugural festivities in 1881. Later on that year electric lights briefly 
illuminated Pennsylvania Avenue, but they would not become per- 
manent until arc lights were installed in 1885. At this time arc lights 
were barely functional, with a conical hood from which dropped the 
carbon arcs. The open carbon arcs had a number of serious 
technological defects: an unsteady light source, poor distribution of 
light, and the necessity of daily trimming by a light tender. 46 

In 1886-87 Wilson reported that important new plantings had been 
made on the White House grounds, including ornamental flower 
beds designed by Henry Pfister. New trees, numerous rhodo- 
dendrons, and other ornamental shrubs were set out. Theft of plants 
was reported for the first time. 47 In 1888-89 the greenhouses were 
repaired, and a new superstructure was built on the brick portion of 
the north greenhouse west of the conservatory. Additional flower 
beds and trees were planted, a few dead trees were cut down, and six 
large trees -of-heaven (ailanthus) were removed. The asphalt drive to 
the front of the President’s House was repaired, and the iron fence on 
this side was repainted. Wilson recommended building an office for 


42. NPS, "The President’s Garden/' 45. 

43. Seale, The President's House, 552-73. 

44. Annual Report, Chief of Engineers, 1885, "Appendix W," 2509-10. 

45. A list of trees and shrubs in President's Park was published, but it is impossible to 
identify the specific locations of the plants. Annual Report, Chief of Engineers, 188 6, 
“Appendix TT," 2076, 2086, 2099. 

46. Noreen, Public Street Illumination, 23-26. 

47. Annual Report, Chief of Engineers, 1887, "Appendix WW," 2570, 2582-83; McPeck, 
“The President’s Garden, ’’ 45. 


133 

Chapter 4. President's Park and the Army Corps of Engineers : 1 865-1 901 



The Grounds of the White House 


the president on the site of the greenhouses, opposite the State, War, 
and Navy Building. 48 

Benjamin Harrison, grandson of William Henry Harrison, assumed 
the presidency in 1889. Although First Lady Caroline Harrison took 
a greater interest in all details of the President's House and its 
practical functioning than any previous first lady, gardening did not 
seem to be her forte. However, with the help of Frederick Owen, an 
architect in the Office of Public Buildings and Grounds, she conceived 
a grandiose plan for enlarging the Executive Mansion. 49 

Mrs. Harrison's proposal called for expanding the rectangular White 
House building, with the original house remaining as the northern 
centerpiece. The conservatories to the west would be removed. Two 
buildings larger than the President's House would face each other 
across the south lawn. They would be connected to the house from 
the east and west ends by two-story structures, domed and 
colonnaded, with cylindrical sections placed halfway in each. The 
building on the east would become the Historical Art Wing, while 
that on the west would be the Official Wing and would house the 
president's offices. Mrs. Harrison's death stopped further discussion 
of the proposal, but plans to enlarge the President's House continued 
to be developed through the end of the century. 50 

During the Harrison presidency Oswald H. Ernst was appointed 
officer in charge of public buildings and grounds. His first report for 
1889-90 (prepared jointly with Wilson) describes the grounds of the 
President's House in considerable detail. To the north extensive 
repairs were made to the flagstone sidewalks from the gates to the 
entrance. The asphalt walkways on the east and west sides were 
completely reconstructed. West Executive Avenue was resurfaced 
with a heavy coating of good binding gravel, and the wooden foot- 
walks across it were removed and replaced with bluestone walks. 
The gravel walks south of the mansion were also recoated. All the 
ailanthus trees were taken out, and other trees were thinned. The 
spring flower beds featured some 23,000 hyacinths, tulips, and 
crocuses, followed by seasonal decorative plantings in summer, 


4B During 1887-88 only routine maintenance was reported. Annual Report, Chief of 
Engineers, 1888, "Appendix ZZ”; ibid., 1889, "Appendix AAA," 2844-45. 

49. Seale, The President's House, 5 74—601; Seale, The White House, 150-53. The Frederick D. 
Owen/Caroline Harrison plan would have eliminated all of the original south lawn. 
Although not a gardener, Mrs. Harrison was an orchid lover. For a dinner for the 
Mexican ambassador, Henry Pfister, still the gardener, ordered dozens of orchids from the 
Jardin de Plantas in Mexico City. NPS, "The President's Garden," 47. 

50. Seale, The White House, 150-53. 


134 

PARTI: THE EVOLUTION OF PRESIDENT'S PARK 



The Grounds of the White House 


along with subtropical specimens from the greenhouses. The 
greenhouses and stable were repaired. In 1889 President Harrison's 
grandchildren, Benjamin Harrison McKee and Mary Lodge McKee, 
planted two scarlet oaks (Quercus coccinca), one of which still stands 
near the northeast gate to the grounds. 51 An 1890 photograph taken 
by Frances Benjamin Johnston (figure 4-3) from below the pool on 
the south lawn, shows the grounds during the Harrison 
administration. 51 

That same year Frances Benjamin Johnston published an article 
giving a few more details about the gardens at the President's House: 

There is seldom any intrusion on the peace and quiet of the 
President’s Park. . . . Sunshine and warm weather usually 
lure a few loiterers to the graveled walks, but only gala oc- 
casions bring great crowds to the White House Grounds. 

On Saturday afternoons in July and August, the famous 
Marine Band occupies an improvised stand on the south 
lawn, and here discourses delightful music for the public 
pleasure. These open-air concerts are popular rather than 
fashionable, and attract a multitude of promenaders, all in 
holiday attire. 

The southern inclosure includes the greater portion of the 
private grounds, and is laid out in winding, graveled walks, 
provided with comfortable park benches, and shaded by 
stately trees. Near the house, two mounds, said to be 
artificial, rise above the level of the smooth slope, while a 
velvet lawn lies between, giving an unobstructed river vista. 

The many flower-beds are gorgeous with color from 
hyacinth time in the spring, until the chrysanthemums 
burn out their red and yellow fires in the fall. Clematis 
vines, starred with blue and white, clamber over every rail- 
ing, and magnificent roses — grown like trees, in the Eng- 
lish fashion — bloom in the great beds on the east. A pro- 
fusion of other choice flowers always fills the borders and 
ornamental plots, but the pride of the garden during the 
last administration was Mrs. Cleveland's favorite, the saucy 
pansy. Such beds and beds of them! and such pansies! Never 
were finer yellow and purple beauties coaxed up from the 


51. File, "Trees Planted by Presidents in Ihe White House Grounds," OC/WH; NPS, "The 
White House Gardens and Grounds." 

52. Annual Report, Chief of Engineers, 1890, "Appendix BBB” 3535, 3548-49. A list of the 
trees and shrubs was also appended to the report, but they were not broken down by 
park as in 1886. 


135 

Chapter4. President's Park and the Army Corps of Engineers: 1865-1901 



The Grounds of the White House 


dull earth to please the dainty taste of a more charming 
mistress. 53 

Repairs were made to the stable and the greenhouses in 1890-91. 
Standard maintenance was given to the lawns, walks, and gutters, 
and a number of young trees and shrubs were planted. There were 
some 33,000 hyacinths, tulips, and crocuses in the flower beds in the 
spring, followed by some 30,000 decorative plants in the summer. H 
In 1891-92 the greenhouses were again repaired, and an addition 
was made to the stable. Massive numbers of bulbs were planted. The 
grounds were maintained as usual. S5 

In 1893 President Grover Cleveland began his second administration 
and reappointed John M. Wilson as officer in charge. George H. 
Brown remained the public gardener. The Clevelands were not 
interested in the grounds, but First Lady Frances Folsom Cleveland 
enjoyed the conservatory and frequently spent time there with her 
two small children. 56 The report for fiscal year 1892-93 identified 
repairs to the asphalt paving on the grounds north of the President's 
House. It recommended that the mounds to the south be graded and 
shaped, that the gravel walks be removed and replaced with artificial 
or granolithic stone, and that the stable be moved from the grounds 
near the State Department. The flower beds around both fountains 
were removed, and 14 new beds were laid out. The old super- 
structures of the rose house and the camellia house were taken down 
and new iron, wood, and glass ones built. 

Acknowledging that earlier efforts to enlarge the President's House 
had failed, Wilson recommended that office space be allocated to the 
president in the State, War, and Navy Building. 57 Plans were devel- 
oped that called for reopening the south entrance gate that had been 
removed in the 1870s and redesigning the lower south grounds. 
These plans emphasized office space and entertainment instead of the 
art history that had been the focus of Caroline Harrison's earlier 


53. Frances Benjamin Johnston. "The White House," Demerest's Family Magazine (May 
1890), 389-90. 

54. Annual Report, Chief of Engineers, 1891, "Appendix EEE," 391 8. 

55. Annual Report, Chief of Engineers, 1892, 3396-98. Nearly 43,000 hyacinths, tulips, 
and crocuses were planted all on the grounds of the President's House. 

5 6 . Seale, The President 's House, 602-15 . 

57. Annual Report, Chief of Engineers, 1893, "Appendix CCC," 4315-16, 4330-31. 


136 

Part 1: The Evolution of President's Park 



proposal. The new plans showed little concern for providing the first 
family with private space on the grounds. 58 

In 1893 Mrs. Frances Folsom Cleveland planted two Japanese maples 
near the south fountain; one is still standing. 59 In 1893-94 the 
conservatory was repaired, while recommendations continued to be 
made for a new superstructure. Wilson again urged separate office 
space for the president in a new building. Wilson noted routine 
maintenance of the grounds north and south of the President's 
House, planting of flower beds and other gardening tasks, and 
repairs of the stable. Plans were made to replace the flag pavement 
leading from the Pennsylvania Avenue entrances to the north portico 
with granolithic pavement. Wilson reiterated his recommendations 
of the previous year about regrading the mounds and removing the 
gravel walks and replacing them with stone. 60 

In 1894-95 the decayed superstructure of the south section of the 
camellia house was replaced with an iron one. The conservatory and 
other greenhouses were also repaired. Wilson repeated his advice to 
construct a separate building for presidential offices, specifying a 
granite structure within the grounds opposite the Treasury Building. 
For the grounds, he noted that the old rubble masonry wall that 
supported the iron fence on the north side had been repointed and the 
fence painted. The flag pavement had been replaced with granolithic 
pavement. Part of the main south drive had also been asphalted. 61 
The next year Wilson again reported repairs to the greenhouses, 
urged a new iron superstructure for the conservatory, and recom- 
mended a separate presidential office wing on the east side. On the 
north and south grounds brick guttering was repaired and the 
asphalt roads at the entrances to the north grounds were resurfaced. 
A number of magnificent trees were damaged and others uprooted 
and destroyed by gales in May 1 8 96. 62 

In 1896-97 the greenhouses, damaged by a hurricane on September 
29, 1896, were repaired. As a result of the hurricane, 50 of the finest 
and oldest trees on the grounds of the President's House were 
destroyed, and at least 125 others were seriously damaged. In 


58. Bruce Price, "Proposed Enlargement of the President's Residence," Harper's Weekly, 
Nov. 28, 1896, 1174-75. 

59. File, "Trees Planted by Presidents in White House Grounds," OC/WH; NPS, "The 
White House Gardens and Grounds." 

60. Annual Report, Chief of Engineers, 1894, "Appendix CCC," 3266-67, 3273-74. 

61 . Annual Report, Chief of Engineers, 1895, "Appendix DDD," 4130-31, 4139-40. 

62. Annual Report, Chief of Engineers, 1896, "Appendix DDD," 3976-77, 3985. 


The Grounds of the White House 


137 

Chapter 4. President's Park and the Army Corps of Engineers: 1865-1901 



The Grounds of the White House 


addition, falling trees smashed portions of the iron fence at the front 
of the property, requiring extensive repairs. In June the elm trees 
were sprayed with a "decoction of London purple and water" (an 
arsenate-based mixture) to stop the ravages of the elm beetle. In the 
fall thousands of spring bulbs were planted, timed to bloom with 
pansies, forget-me-nots, and daisies. In May and June the bulbs were 
all taken up and stored, and the beds were replanted with summer 
bedding plants. In his annual report Wilson again pleaded for a new 
superstructure for the conservatory. Extensive repairs were made to 
the stable, which Wilson again advised moving. He also repeated the 
recommendation for a separate presidential office building. 63 

William McKinley became president in J897. At his inauguration, 
Theodore A. Bingham became officer in charge of public buildings 
and grounds. First Lady Ida McKinley, whose health was frail, took 
little interest in the house or its grounds, although she appreciated 
the roses from the conservatory. Henry Pfister, who remained as 
White House gardener, made daily floral arrangements for her. M 

In 1897-98 Bingham reported that necessary repairs had been made 
to the stables and greenhouses and repeated earlier recommendations 
about replacing the conservatory superstructure. Routine mainte- 
nance was reported, as well as the usual extensive planting of flower 
beds for spring and summer bloom. Three old, decayed maple trees 
were removed. On March 18, 1898, President McKinley planted a pin 
oak at the northwest corner of the mansion. Fences were painted. On 
Easter Monday the traditional egg rolling took place on the south 
lawn (figure 4-4). 65 

In 1898-99 Bingham described repairs to the asphalt north drive of 
the President's House and to the asphalt walks in the north and west 
parts of the grounds. Eight iron posts with electric arc lamps were 
installed in September 1898, most of them on the front (north) side. 
A total of 20 electric arc lights had been approved for the Executive 
Mansion grounds; however, legal questions about laying cable across 
the grounds temporarily delayed installation. The grounds of the 
Executive Mansion had eight electric arc lights by 1899. President's 
Park south of the White House had nine lights, and Lafayette Square, 
six. Seventy-one gas burners still contributed light to the Executive 
Mansion grounds as well. More lights were added at the east 
entrance of the White House in 1899, along with "boulevard lamps" 


63. Annual Report, Chief of Engineers, 1897, "Appendix BBB," 4031-32, 4038-39. 

64. Seale, The President's House, 619-20. 

65. Annual Report, Chief of Engineers, 1898, 3665-66, 3722-23, 3732-35, 3742-43. 


138 

Part 1: The Evolution of President's Park 



The Grounds of the White House 


to the tops of the "two stone pillars at the east end of the mansion"; 
two older lampposts were removed. 66 By 1899 the Saturday 
afternoon Marine Band concerts had resumed. The band performed 
on a sectional platform that could be removed. Bingham reported 
that the platform was enlarged by 12 sections with 13 additional 
trestles, increasing the size by 700 square feet, although the original 
dimensions were not reported. 67 The children's egg roll on Easter 
Monday continued. More repairs were made to the greenhouses and 
the conservatory. 68 

The report for 1899-1900 documented that the greenhouses were 
repaired again, and it included an illustration of the greenhouse 
complex at its greatest extent (figure 4-5). The 1900 egg roll was 
reported and illustrated. Stables were repaired, fencing was painted, 
and trees, vines, shrubs, and decorative spring bulbs and summer 
bedding plants were maintained. Another illustration (figure 4-6) 
shows the north side of the President's House with its fountain and 
planting beds. A severe windstorm on August 2, 1899, damaged 
numerous trees, and a fine yellow buckeye on the north lawn came 
down. The annual report includes a complete list of the trees and 
shrubs in the grounds, keyed to a map prepared by Henry Pfister, 
still the head gardener. 69 

In 1900 Theodore Bingham and Frederick D. Owen developed plans 
to enlarge the White House on a grand scale. Derived from the earlier 
plan for Mrs. Harrison, this design called for an open quadrangle 
with large side wings added to the original house. Each wing would 
be crowned with a shallow dome. The design called for elaborate 
entrances, two grand rooms, and expanded private living quarters, 
but no private space on the grounds. Conflict between Bingham and 
Senator James McMillan, coupled with the President McKinley's 
assassination, delayed and eventually derailed the implementation of 
this design. 70 Another design by Paul J. Pelz, one of the architects of 


66. Annual Report, Chief of Engineers, 1899, "Appendix CCC," 3815-17; Norecn, Public 
Street Illumination, 28-29. 

67. Annua/ Report, Chief of Engineers, 1899, 3812. 

68. Beginning in the 1890s, the annual reports were illustrated with drawings and 
photographs. The Washington Monument was featured most prominently, but the 
1898-99 document includes a photograph of the west "L" of the conservatory at the 
President's House. Annual Report, Chief of Engineers, 1899, 3814—15, 3827-28. 

69. Annual Report, Chief of Engineers, 1900, "Appendix AAA," 5232-33, 5244—49. This 
map is too detailed to be read in reduction. 

70. Seale, The While House, 159-65. 


139 

Chapter 4. President's Park and the Army Corps of Engineers: 1 865-1 901 



Lafayette Square 


140 

Part I: The evolution of President's Park 


the Library of Congress, proposed a presidential mansion on 
Meridian Hill, but this proposal was also defeated _ 7] 

In 1900-1901 the greenhouses, the conservatory, the stables, and the 
north fence were repaired. The usual spring and summer plantings 
were carried out. A new shrub bed was laid out, and another bed 
was planted with Japanese lily bulbs. The annual egg roll took place 
on Easter Monday. 72 


Lafayette Square 

Lafayette Square was not mentioned in the initial reports of the chief 
of engineers. However, the damage to the site that occurred during 
the Civil War, when troops trampled flower beds and hung laundry 
from the equestrian sculpture of Andrew Jackson, seems to have 
been fully repaired by 1868. 73 By this time the wide walkway from 
the main entrance opposite the President's House was lined with 
small and very neat evergreen shrubs, and fairly good-sized 
deciduous trees were thriving. 

In his report for fiscal year 1870-71 Michler describes the square, 

No more beautifully picturesque spot can be visited in the 
city. The trees and shrubs and bushes are of the choicest 
species, and most artistically are they arranged in inviting 
groups. A most charming place for recreation. It has but 
few defects; among them the absence of under-drainage, 
which is absolutely necessary, owing to the very level 
nature of the ground. 74 

The following year Orville E. Babcock addressed some of the defects 
Michler had identified. An underground drainage system installed in 
1857-58 was replaced because it was not working well. Inadequate 
drainage, however, would continue to be a problem for many years. 
Eight new lampposts, two of which were combined with drinking 
fountains, were set up. The walks had originally been made of "very 
coarse, unscreened gravel," which was very unpleasant to walk on; 


7 1 . Seale, The President's House, 61 6-45 . 

72. The Japanese lily bulbs were a gift of Dr. John D. Jones of Washington. Annual 
Report, Chief of Engineers, 1901, "Appendix DDD," 3694-95, 3703-4. 

73. Barthold, "Lafayette Square (Reservation Number 10),'' 6. 

74. Annua! Report, Chief of Engineers, 1871, 977. Michler also recommended a different 
material for the walks and the replacement of the iron fence with a lighter and more 
ornamental one. 



Lafayette Square 


an attempt was made to improve their surfaces by rolling them with 
a 3,600-pound roller, but to no effect. They were then taken up and 
the gravel thoroughly screened and relaid with the coarse gravel at 
the bottom and the fine gravel at the top, interlaid with very fine 
gravel that had a binding quality. The walks were then rolled again. 
The result was a "hard, compact, and smooth foot- way." Trees were 
also thinned, and a new watchman's lodge was constructed on the 
north side of the park, with space for the watchman, a toolshed, and 
men's and ladies' restrooms at each end of the structure, with their 
own walks and evergreen screenings. Finally, two bronze vases, the 
gift of Secretary of the Navy George M. Robeson, were placed on 
granite pedestals in the park. 75 These combined efforts in 1871-72 
probably represented more work than had been done on Lafayette 
Square in many years, but did not constitute a "redesign." The walks 
apparently were put back in the same place. 

In 1872-73 the drainage was further improved by the addition of 1 7 
brick traps, which were connected with the main drainage system. 
The trees were trimmed and the walks rolled. In 1873-74 Babcock 
requested $2,000 for routine maintenance and $5,000 for removing 
the "cumbersome" iron fence and replacing it with a post-and-chain 
fence. The report for 1874-75 notes that the park had received 
proper care and attention. Ten settees were added, and when the 
rough gravel worked its way to the surface of the walks, it was 
replaced with finer gravel and rolled. 76 

During the following year bedding plants were set along the walks 
and in planting beds. Two prairie dogs were placed in a cage in the 
park. 77 In 1876-77 Babcock remarked that the decaying gun car- 
riages surrounding the Jackson statue had been replaced. Babcock 
was interested in encouraging the public to visit the park. He believed 
that making the park more accessible would help compensate for the 
negative impression of the locked gates around the White House. 78 

Thomas L. Casey's recommendations for the last four months of 
fiscal year 1876-77 were quite extensive. 79 He praised the care that 
had been spent on the park and its attractive appearance, but noted 
that drainage was still a problem, as were the surfaces of the walks. 


75. Annual Report, Chief of Engineers, 1872, 6-7. 

76. Annual Report, Chief of Engineers, 1873 , 4. Maps were made in 1874, but they have 
not been located. Ibid., 1874, 11, 14; ibid., 1875, 8, 11. 

77. Annual Report, Chief of Engineers, 1876, 12. 

78. Seale, "The Design of Lafayette Park," 14. 

79. Annual Report, Chief of Engineers, 1877, 7. 


141 

Chapter 4. President's Park and the Army Corps of Engineers: 1 865-1901 



Lafayette Square 


The grass needed top dressing, and some of the flower beds were too 
deeply shaded.* 0 

In 1877-78 additional tile drains and water catches were installed, 
and the lawns were top-dressed with rich compost during the 
winter. The lodge was painted and equipped with new gutters and 
downspouts. 81 The following year the walks were "recoated with a 
dressing of screened gravel where needed." Casey's report provides 
important clues to the appearance of Lafayette Park at this time. The 
existence of large old trees can be inferred from his statement that 
portions of the lawns were too deeply shaded to permit the growth 
of grasses. He also indicated that many magnolias, English yews, 
and half-hardy evergreen trees that had successfully weathered 
earlier winters were seriously damaged during the severe winter of 
1878-79. Casey referred to "oval spaces on the lower walks," where 
English holly had become overgrown, and which he replanted with 
flowers. These sound like the oval spaces inserted into walkways 
that appear on earlier depictions of Lafayette Square, going back to 
the Boschke map of 1857 (figure 3-8). Work completed at this time 
included additional care of the lawn: some of the shaded areas were 
again top-dressed, this time with rich surface loam, and sown with 
orchard grass and bluegrass seed. Where the lawn was not too 
shaded, conditions improved. Ornamental foliage and flowering 
plants were put in. Settees were placed in all of the parks, and the 
fences were painted. 82 In 1879-80 several decaying and unhealthy 
trees were removed; maintenance continued on the lawn; a large 
number of deciduous trees, shrubs, and evergreens were planted, and 
walks were repaired. 83 

In his first annual report for fiscal year 1880-81, Almon F. Rockwell 
recorded that all drainage pipes and drains had been removed and 
replaced with 675 feet of 11-inch terra-cotta pipe drain. A 5-foot- 
wide asphalt walk was also installed, apparently running diagonally 
from the northwest to the southeast corner. 84 In September 1881 
John Stewart prepared a plan shown in figure 4-7. Updated in 1915 
to include the sculptures at the four corners of the park, there is little 
difference between it and the Boschke plan of 1857 (see figure 3-8). 


80. Annual Report, Chief of Engineers, 1877, 1. 

81. Annual Report, Chiif of Engineers, 1878, 1345. 

82. Annual Report, Chief of Engineers, 1879, 1881-82. 

83. Annual Report, Chief of Engineers, 7880, 2341. 

84. Annual Report, Chief of Engineers, 1881, 2713-14. 


142 

Part 1: The Evolution of President's Park 



Lafayette Square 


In 1881-82 the lodge was repainted and 258 cubic yards of screened 
gravel were used to repair worn-out places in the walks. The fact 
that there were many old trees in the park is clear: tree branches 
overhanging the walks were trimmed, the branches of a number of 
"old maple and other trees" were thinned, and the trees were "headed 
back." 85 Substantial work was also completed in 1882-83, including 
asphalting another walk and repairing the watchman's lodge and 
drainage system. Some of the walks, probably the narrower ones 
around the periphery of the park, were still graveled, and the surface 
had to be repaired frequently with freshly screened gravel. Caterpillar 
cocoons were also removed from evergreens. In the fall the lawns 
were spread with fresh compost. The flower beds were spread with a 
top dressing of marl and planted in the fall with bulbs and in the 
spring with bedding plants. 86 

In 1883-84 a 5-foot-wide asphalt walk was laid on the graveled 
walk leading from the central southern entrance at Pennsylvania 
Avenue to the central northern entrance at H Street. Close to 1,500 
linear feet of additional brick gutters were also installed. The graveled 
walks were repaired, and the flower beds were planted as in the 
previous year. 87 The following year the park received routine care, 
with manure spread on the lawn and spring bulbs and summer 
flowers planted. The gravel walks continued to be repaired and 
rolled. It was proposed to keep the park, previously closed at 11 j\m., 
open all night. 88 

At about this time {in 1885) the location of Jackson's statue was 
first questioned when an appropriate place for the statue of Lafayette 
in the park became an issue. The congressional committee decided to 
locate the statue at a spot midway along Pennsylvania Avenue, 
between the Executive Mansion and the Jackson statue. Tennessee 
Senator William Brimmage Bate strongly opposed it, complaining 
that the Lafayette statue would obstruct the view of Jackson. 89 

In 1885-86 routine maintenance was reported, and a small plan was 
included. It does not differ from the Stewart 1881 plan, but is less 
detailed. It also contains a list of the trees and shrubs then in 


85. Annual Report, Chief of Engineers, 1882, 2755-6. 

86. Annual Report, Chief of Engineers, 1883, 2096. 

87. Annual Report, Chief of Engineers, 1884, 2441 . 

88. Annual Report, Chief of Engineers, 1885, 2505. 

89. Tim Kerr, "The History of the Equestrian Statue of General Andrew Jackson, 
Lafayette Park, Washington, D.C." (WHL/NPS, Aug. 1999), 45-46. 


143 

Chapter 4. President 's Park and the Army Corps of Engineers: 1865-1901 



Lafayette Square 


Lafayette Square. 90 The 1886-87 report notes that there were 172 
settees in the park, 91 and it provides a brief description of Lafayette 
Square, as follows: 

This park . . . was one of the first city parks elaborately 
improved and planted, and contains a choice collection of 
evergreen and deciduous trees and shrubs, including many 
fine specimens of rare species not generally found north of 
Washington; inclosed with a heavy ornamental iron railing; 
gas-lamps around and through the park; two drinking 
fountains; lawn surfaces planted chiefly on margins of 
walks, and interspersed with flower beds and borders for 
summer planting of exotic flowering and foliaged plants. 

Two massive antique bronze vases of elaborate design on 
granite pedestals grace the park at intersections of walks 
near the eastern and western entrances. The equestrian sta- 
tue of General Jackson, by Clark Mills, on a white marble 
pedestal, surrounded by four field pieces of artillery 
(captured by General Jackson) occupies the center of the 
park; gravel and asphalt walks are in good condition, and a 
watchman's lodge, with necessary public conveniences, is 
located in this park. 92 

In 1888-89 the iron fence around Lafayette Square was removed and 
sent to the Gettysburg Memorial Association for use at the National 
Cemetery on the top of Culp's Hill. This was supposedly done at the 
instigation of Daniel Sickles, former New York Congressman and 
Union general, who had lived on Lafayette Square and had been 
wounded at Gettysburg. During this period iron perimeter fences 
were frequently removed from parks, not only in Washington, but 
in other cities as well. Such iron fences, even if they had gates that 
were always open, were perceived as both ugly and "undemocratic." 
As a replacement for the fence, the officer in charge, John Wilson, 
requested an appropriation to install granite curbing around 
Lafayette Square. 93 


90. Annual Report, Chief of Engineers, 188 6 , 2078-79, 2102. 

91. Annual Report, Chirf of Engineers, 1887, 2578. 

92. Annual Report, Chief of Engineers, 1887, 2595. This quotation demonstrates that the 
area was referred to as both a "square" and a "park" at this time. 

93. Annual Report, Chief of Engineers, 1889. The iron fence from Lafayette Square is still 
in place at Gettysburg National Military Park. Recently acquired current photographs of 
it are located at ESF/WHL/NPS; additional close-up photographs were taken by Cynthia 
Zaizevsky. The fence is on the west side of the National Cemetery (not on Culp's Hill, as 
stated on the 1889 annual report) to separate it from the adjacent town cemetery. It is 
probable that this fence was fabricated from the design by Calvert Vaux for Downing, 
since the finials are in the shape of an ear of corn, as described by Vaux, although they 
are very stylized. (See Calvert Vaux to Marshall P. Wilder, Aug. 18, 1852, J. Jay Smith 


144 


PART I: THE EVOLUTION OF PRESIDENT'S PARK 



Lafayette Square 


In 1889 two new short gravel-surfaced walks were installed at the 
centers of the east and west sides of the park for easier public access. 
Graveled walks and the drainage system were repaired. The 
foundation for the sculpture to the memory of General Lafayette was 
under construction at the main entrance to the park on Pennsylvania 
Avenue, but the following year these foundations were taken up and 
moved to the new location, presumably to avoid blocking the view 
of the Jackson figure. 9,1 In March and April 1891 the marble pedestal 
was set into place, and the bronze figure of Lafayette was erected. 
The office of the commissioner of public buildings and grounds then 
sodded the mound and enclosed it with a granite curb, reconstructed 
the surrounding gravel walks, and laid a new asphalt footpath at the 
north side of the statue. Portions of the southeast corner of the park 
were so densely shaded that grass would not grow, and a ground 
cover of hardy ivy and vincas was used instead. Palms and other 
foliage plants occupied the spot at the main entrance where the 
foundation had originally been, 95 

The following year granite curbing was installed around the perim- 
eter as a replacement for the iron fence that had been removed. At 
the southeast corner near the Lafayette sculpture, two granite-block 
piers with wing walls were constructed, and an ornamental lamp- 
post and a gas lamp were installed on each of them. 96 In 1893-94 
Wilson reported that the asphalt walks in the square were repaired 
and resurfaced, and that the vases were filled with handsome plants. 
The drainage system was also improved, and a new gravel path was 
constructed east of the lodge. In the space at the main entrance 
originally intended for the Lafayette sculpture, evergreen trees and 
yuccas were planted. Five old trees were removed. 97 In 1895-96 


Collection. Site visit to Gettysburg National Cemetery, Cynthia Zaitzevsky, March 27, 
1995.) For information on Sickles, who in 1859 killed his wife's lover in Lafayette 
Square, see Nat Brandt, The Congressman Who Got Away with Murder (Syracuse, NY: 
Syracuse University Press, 1991) and Barthold, "Lafayette Square," 5. The fence around 
Lafayette Park was apparently removed because of pressure from residents; if this was the 
case, it was not mentioned in the annual reports; NPS, Lafayette Park, 20. For Boston's iron 
fences during the period, see Cynthia Zaitzevsky Associates, "Dorchester Heights/Thomas 
Park, Boston National Historical Park, Cultural Landscape Report" (National Park Service, 
Denver Service Center, 1993). 

94. Annual Report, Chief of Engineers, 1890, 3542-43. 

95. Annual Report, Chief of Engineers, 1891, 3912-13. The sculptors were Jean Alexandre, 
Joseph Falguiere, and Marius Jean Antonin Mercie. The architect was Paul Pujol. Goode, 
The Outdoor Sculpture, 372-73. 

96. Annual Report, Chief of Engineers, 1892, 3390. 

97. Annual Report, Chief of Engineers, 1894, 3279. 


145 

Chapter 4. President's Park and the Army Corps of Engineers: 1865-1 901 



President's Park South 


repairs were made to the asphalt paths and the lodge was painted. 
Electric lighting was recommended to replace the gas lamps. 98 

During 1896-97 the iron fence around the Jackson statue was 
painted, a sewer was repaired, the drinking fountains were put in 
good order, and some of the asphalt walks were resurfaced. The 
gaslights were gradually phased out. 99 The following year the exter- 
ior of the watchman's lodge was repainted. Eight lampposts, two 
drinking fountains, and the high iron fence enclosing the sculpture 
of General Jackson were restored. 100 In 1898-99 the fence was 
painted, worn places in the asphalt walks were repaired, and a new 
sewer was laid. In addition, the yearly report included a long general 
statement about the Washington parks and a drawing showing 
samples of stone and cement coping around the various reservations, 
including Lafayette Square. 101 In 1899-1900 worn places in the 
asphalt walks were repaired, and the fences around the Jackson 
statue and the lodge were painted. The District government replaced 
the old brick sidewalk around the park with cement pavement, re- 
quiring the temporary removal of the granite coping. Some grading 
in connection with this work was planned. 102 In 1900-1901 the 
grading forced by the sidewalk reconstruction was completed. Drain- 
pipe was also laid, and repairs were made to the watchman's lodge. 
New brass labels were also placed on some of the trees, giving their 
scientific and common names. 103 


President's Park South 

It is unclear whether the construction and planting of the "Grounds 
South" carried out in the 1850s under Downing’s plan had been 
totally destroyed during the Civil War. The site had possibly 
developed such severe drainage problems by the late 1860s that it 
had to be entirely reconstructed. In his first report, Michler, like his 
predecessors, described the "disgusting" condition of the Washington 
Canal and urged that it either be improved or converted into a 


98. Annual Report, Chief of Engineers, 1896, 3974, 3995. 

99. Annual Report, Chief of Engineers, 2 896, 4045, 405 7. 

100. Annual Report, Chief of Engineers, 1898, 3726. 

101. Annual Report, Chief of Engineers, 1899, 3822-27, 3831. 

102. Annual Report, Chief of Engineers, 1900, 5251. An illustration of one of the planted 
urns in Lafayette Park was also included in this report. 

103. Annual Report, Chief of Engineers, 1901, 3705. 


146 

PART I: THE EVOLUTION OF PRESIDENT’S PARK 



President's Park South 


sewer . 10,1 In 1869 he reiterated the problem, but he indicated that a 
select committee had been appointed to address the issue . 105 The 
following year the committee proposed dredging the canal. Michler 
also recommended substantial appropriations to carry out the 
improvements adopted for the grounds south of the President's 
House . 106 In 1870-71 Michler noted that little had been done during 
the year on the "White Lot"; he had submitted a report, plans, and 
estimates for improving the Washington Canal but did not describe 
his suggestions . 107 There was no discussion of the Washington Canal 
in the report for 1871-72, but the following year it was converted 
into a trunk sewer . 108 

Over the next several years the annual reports record extensive 
filling, especially between 1873 and 1878. It is probable that the 
excavation for the massive State, War, and Navy Building, which 
began in 1871, provided additional fill for the White Lot. In 1872-73 
Babcock indicated that the "grounds south of the Executive Mansion" 
(probably the Ellipse, since he did not specify "inclosed" grounds) had 
been gradually filled both by the purchase of soil and by refuse and 
construction debris dumped by citizens. The soil was graded as it 
arrived on the site . 109 The same kind of filling was reported in 1873- 
74 no piping continued in the lower portions of these grounds in 
1875-76, and roadways were repaired . 11 1 Large quantities of fill 
consisting of soil and street sweepings were deposited at the site 
during the First eight months of the fiscal year 1876-77. 111 Much 
apparently had been accomplished by the summer of 1877, when a 
journalist from New York, described the White Lot's "pleasantly 
varied surface, with clusters of fine trees here and there, and a 
beautifully kept greensward ." 113 


104. Annua/ Report, Chief of Engineers, 1868, 16. 

105. Annual Report, Chief of Engineers, 1869, 498-501. 

106. Annua/ Report, Chief of Engineers, 1870, 520-2. 

107. Annual Report, Chief of Engineers, 1871, 976-7,980-1. 

108. Annual Report, Chief of Engineers, 1872; Reps, Monumental Washington, 59. 

109. Annual Report, Chief of Engineers, 1873, 11. 

110. Annual Report, Chief of Engineers, 1874, 3; the Ellipse was not mentioned in the 
annual report for 1874—75. 

111. Annual Report, Chief of Engineers, 1876, 4. 

112. annual Report, Chief of Engineers, 1877, 6. 

113. Adele G., "Our Washington Letter,'' 1. 


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Chapter 4. President's Park and the Army Corps of Engineers: 1865-1 901 



President’s Park South 


By 1877-78 Casey reported that most of the White Lot had been 
filled to within about 3 feet of grade, the more sunken portions being 
primarily along 17th Street. He also noted another development: 

A plan of improvement after the project of Downing and as 
approved by President Fillmore was commenced during the 
year. It consists substantially of a large field or parade some 
1 7 acres in extent, and elliptical in shape, which will occupy 
the center of the reservation, the remaining portions of the 
ground being reserved for foliage trees and shrubs, and 
shaded walks and drives. During the past year some 250 
feet in depth of the upper part of the parade was graded, 
sodded, and brought into grass-land. The construction of 
the parade will be continued the coming year." 4 

The phrase "after the project of Downing" may be significant. A 
copy of the approved plan dated September 29 , 1877, is illustrated in 
figure 4-8. Although it shows all of President's Park, with the 
exception of Lafayette Square, it is probable that only the grounds to 
the south of the White House enclosure reflect a new scheme. This 
plan differs significantly from both Downing's original plan (figure 
3-2) and from the Boschke map surveyed in the late 1850s (figure 3- 
8). Downing’s original "ellipse" was actually a circle; on the north it 
would have come all the way up to the Jefferson wall, and on the 
south it would have extended to Constitution Avenue. The ellipse 
shown on the Boschke map was much smaller and although it 
extended to Constitution on the south, it barely reached D Street on 
the north. The Casey-Hayes plan, then, represents a further modifi- 
cation. (This report, incidentally, seems to be the first place where the 
word "ellipse" is used.) In April 1877 Casey sought the advice of the 
Chicago landscape architectural firm of H, W. S. Cleveland and 
William Merchant French for the redesign of the White Lot, but this 
plan has been lost. At the same time William Saunders, a local 
landscape designer, was approached but he also turned down an 
offer to design the south grounds. 1,5 

During fiscal year 1878-79 contracts for filling, grading, and sowing 
the Ellipse were carried out. In addition, 34,500 cubic yards of earth 
were brought in to bring the grounds adjacent to 1 7th Street up to a 
grade where they could receive topsoil. 116 The following year the 
entire site was graded (except for an area in the center where a sewer 
was being constructed), covered with topsoil, and seeded. The 


114. Annual Report, Chief of Engineers, 1878, 1347. 

1 15. NPS, "The President's Garden,” 39—40. 

116. Annual Report, Chief of Engineers, 1879, 1879. 


148 


PART I: THE EVOLUTION OF PRESIDENT'S PARK 



President's Park South 


western half of the 50-foot-wide roadway around it was com- 
pleted.” 7 In 1880 the two gatehouses that had been designed by 
Charles Bulfinch for the Capitol grounds, but that had been removed 
and put into storage in 1874, were installed at the southeast and 
southwest corners of the Ellipse, where they still stand.” 8 Three 
gateposts of the same stone as the gatehouses, and presumably also 
from the Capitol, were moved to the southeast corner at the same 
time. Only one of them is within the grounds of the Ellipse; the other 
two are on the south side of Constitution Avenue on the Washington 
Monument grounds. Rockwell reported further progress in 1880-81. 
The central area, left ungraded the previous year, was graded and 
sowed in lawn seed and winter rye. The elliptical drive was 
completed, and elms were planted on both sides. On the west side, 
outside the drive, grading, topsoiling, and planting were still in 
progress.” 9 

The following year the unfinished roadbeds and walks on the east 
side were surfaced and rolled. Trees and shrubs were planted in the 
northeastern section. In a small area in the southeastern corner roads 
and walks were staked and excavated. Drainage work also continued. 
Topsoil was spread in the area abutting 17th Street, and it was 
sowed with bluegrass and winter rye. Part of the northern end was 
still occupied by the workshops and stone sheds used during the 
construction of the State, War, and Navy Building. The completed 
sections of the Ellipse were mowed and weeded. 110 

Early photographs of the Ellipse are rare. Figure 4-9, probably from 
1880, shows the nearly finished elliptical roadway, but almost no 
trees. One Bulfinch gatehouse is visible at the southeast corner, and 
the executive stable can be seen at the northwest corner; the south 
wing of the State, War, and Navy Building appears to be finished. At 
the northeast corner, close to where the Sherman Statue was later 
erected, the Treasury Department's photographic building stands. 

In 1882-83 the southwestern corner of the grounds was completed, 
and a new roadway was put in from 17th and B Streets, including 
cobblestone gutters. About 1,000 trees and shrubs were transplanted 


117. Annual Report, Chief of Engineers, 1S80, 2339. 

118. Four other Bulfinch gateposts are located today at the New York Avenue entrance 
to the National Arboretum. Another is located at Constitution Avenue and Seventh Street 
near the National Gallery and National Archives; Scott and Lee, Buildings of the District of 
Columbia, 7, 151; Kirker, The Architecture of Charles Bulfinch, 340, photograph, 1900. 

119. Annual Report, Chief of Engineers, 1881, 2711. 

120. Annual Report, Chief of Engineers, 1882, 2733—4. 


149 

Chapter 4. President's Park and the Army Corps of Engineers: 1865-1901 



President's Park South from other reservations. 125 In 1883-84 work continued, including 

bringing some parts of the grounds up to the proper grade and 
laying nearly 3,000 feet of additional stone guttering. A total of 312 
more trees were planted, mostly in the western half of the grounds, 
and manure compost was laid on the grounds. 122 Work in 1884-85 
consisted primarily of maintaining and planting numerous evergreen 
and deciduous trees and shrubs. Settees were also installed. 123 

In 1885-86 the grounds around the stable were raised about 18 
inches. Other repairs were done, including roadway maintenance and 
drainage. Lawns were raked and rolled. 124 In 1886-87 a gravel- 
surfaced walk was constructed that ran from the intersection of D 
and 17th Streets to the main road around the Ellipse, covering an 
area of about 1,500 square feet. In the western part of the park 450 
flowering shrubs and 180 deciduous and evergreen trees were 
planted. In May 1887 a military drill took place (one of the uses that 
Downing had envisioned for it), but the grass was damaged. 125 

In 1887-88 Wilson reported extensive repairs to the main road, 
which had been in use for only a short time. Lighting for the area 
also continued to be a concern. While the popularity of the Ellipse as 
a public area continued to grow each season, as of 1887 lights in the 
area were still not available. 526 

Wilson proposed that a 150-foot tower be erected in the center of the 
lot and equipped with six lamps of 2,000 candlepower each. The 
installation would cost about $750 to build and $1,533 per year to 
operate, he reported. The next year he reconsidered, saying that the 
structure would "disfigure" the Ellipse. To complement the 71 gas 
lights elsewhere on the Executive Mansion grounds, he recommended 
that seven iron electric light poles 25 feet high be placed around the 
perimeter of the Ellipse. Wires would be placed underground. 
Operating each lamp would cost 70 cents per night, for a total of 
$1,788.50 per year. Bids were let for the work, but arguments over 
cost kept the Ellipse dark. 527 


121. Annual Report, Chief of Engineers, 1883, 2093-4. 

122. Annual Report, Chief of Engineers, 1884, 2339-40. 

123. Annual Report, Chief of Engineers, 1885, 2503. 

124. v4nmjal Report, Chief of Engineers, 1886, 2076, 2086. 

125. Annual Report, Chief of Engineers, 1887, 2569-70. 

126. Annual Report, Chief of Engineers, 1888, n.p. 

127. Annual Report, Chief of Engineers, 1885, 2075-76, 2082-83, 2513; ibid., 1889, 2841. 


150 

Part 1: The Evolution of President's Park 



President's Park South 


In 1888-89 work on the section south of the State, War, and Navy 
Building continued, including the new main drive, which later 
became State Place. A new bluestone walk was laid in the gravel road 
between the southeast and southwest gates. Wilson also recom- 
mended moving the executive stables from their site on the east side 
of 1 7th Street near the south front of the State Department to the 
other side of 1 7th Street. The park lodge in the southeast corner of 
the Ellipse grounds (one of the Bulfinch lodges) was repaired and 
reroofed after its copper roof was stolen. 128 

In 1889-90 John Wilson and Oswald Ernst reported that an old 
wooden stable (shed) on 1 7th Street was taken down and rebuilt at 
the rear of the president's stable. Its former site was filled and graded 
to correspond to the surrounding parkland. Seven high iron lamp- 
posts were installed on the outer edges of the road around the Ellipse 
and connected with electrical cable. Drains were repaired. 129 

In 1890-91 parts of the road around the Ellipse were resurfaced with 
unscreened gravel, and a number of young trees and shrubs planted 
to fill in gaps. 130 In 1891-92 the road south of the State Department 
was resurfaced with fresh gravel. Fifteen deciduous and evergreen 
trees were removed from the southern part of the park and trans- 
planted to the northwest corner, along with 22 large flowering 
shrubs. Seven American elms were planted along the east side of 
1 7th Street. Soil removed in the process was used to fill low ground 
around the belt of trees that screened the president's stable. 131 In 
1892-93 Ernst noted only routine maintenance on the Ellipse, but 
remarked that after the occupation of the Grand Army of the 
Republic in September 1 892, the lawn, which was seriously damaged 
in many places, was resown. 132 

In 1893-94 Wilson reported general maintenance and repairs to the 
watchman’s lodge at the corner of 1 7th and B Streets (one of the 
Bulfinch gatehouses). He also strongly emphasized the need for a 
new asphalt walk on the inner side of the Ellipse, "the central 
parade ... is now conceded to be one of the chief attractions of the 
President's Park." Noting that it had been designed by the "celebrated 
landscape artistic gardener, A. J. Downing" for "military evolutions," 
he hoped that it would never be disfigured with any structures. The 


128 . Annual Report, Chief of Engineers, 1889, 2827 - 8 . 

129 . Annual Report, Chief of Engineers, 1890, 3535 - 6 . 

130 . Annual Report, Chief of Engineers, 1891, 3907 . 

131 . Annual Report, Chief of Engineers, 1892, 3386 . 

132 . Annual Report, Chief of Engineers, 1893, 4316 . 


151 

Chapter 4 . President's Park and the Army Corps of Engineers: 1 865-1 901 



President's Park South 


walk would be useful for spectators of military drills and for the 
general public. 133 By 1894 seven electric lamps lit the roadway 
around the Ellipse. 134 An act of Congress approved March 1, 1895, 
authorized a portion of the grounds within the Ellipse for use as a 
children's playground for tennis and croquet. In the 1894-95 report 
Wilson again recommended an asphalt walk around the Ellipse. In 
the spring and summer of 1895 the park's appearance was marred 
by the construction of a large sewer from 15th to 17th Streets, 
requiring the removal of many trees and shrubs. 135 

By 1895-96 the damage caused by the sewer excavation had been re- 
paired. Wilson again urged the construction of an asphalt walkway 
around the inner edge of the Ellipse. Although a portion had been set 
aside for children's lawn games, only two applications for playing 
tennis, croquet, or cricket had been received, and neither was used. 
Permission was frequently sought to play sports far more damaging 
to the grounds — baseball and football — but these sports were not 
then allowed. In 1896 a site just south of the Treasury was selected 
for the Sherman statue. Wilson recommended the removal of the 
Treasury Department's photographic building, greenhouses, and an 
old iron fence. The large gate piers would also be taken out. The area 
would be developed for a park to be called Sherman Plaza, designed 
to harmonize with the sculpture. 136 

In the report for 1896-97 the Ellipse and the grounds around it were 
referred to as "President's Park." For the first time, the Ellipse 
grounds were clearly distinguished from the "inclosed" grounds 
south of the executive mansion. Repairs to the road surfaces and the 
construction of a new walk were reported. By now the popularity of 
the park was causing some problems: the central lawn was being 
damaged by "trespass walks," and bicyclists used the oval drive for 
"scorching" {apparently riding fast enough to mark the road). 137 In 
addition, large-scale events, even when fully approved, such as the 
Christian Endeavor convention held in July 1896, severely damaged 
the lawn. Wilson once again urged the construction of an asphalt 
walk around the Ellipse at a cost of $ 10,500. 138 


133. Annual Report, Chief of Engineers, 1894, 3274. 

134. Leach and Barthold, Reservation No. 1, p. 3, 

135. Annual Report, Chief of Engineers, 1895, 4139, 4140. 

136. Annual Report, Chief of Engineers, 1896, 3984-6. 

137. Goode, Capital Losses, 128, as cited in Leach and Barthold, Reservalion No. 1, 8. 

138. Annual Report, Chief of Engineers, 189 7, 4046-47. The Martin LuLher King Library has 
a photograph of the Treasury photographic building with tents for the Clirislian Endeavor 


152 

Part 1: Tuf, Evolution of President's Park 



President's Park South 


On the west side of the Ellipse construction began in 1897 on the 
Corcoran Gallery of Art, which had outgrown the building at the 
corner of 1 7th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue (the current Renwick 
Gallery). The new building foreshadowed the development of the area 
as the west boundary of the monumental frame for the Ellipse. 
Designed by Charles Adam Flagg in 1897, Waddy B. Wood rede- 
signed its interior in 1915, and Charles Platt its west wing in 1928. 
The structure relies on proximity to the sidewalk and an elaborate 
Greek-inspired doorway flanked by reclining lions to entice visitors. 
Three horizontal bands — a pink granite foundation, a smooth 
marble wall punctuated by fortified windows, and an elaborate 
Greek detailed entablature — insulate the interior. Square openings in 
the frieze, allowing for air circulation across the galleries in warm 
weather, providing a connection between street bustle and the 
sequestered interior. The copper roof contributes a sense of lightness 
to the heavy building. 135 

In 1897-98 the most worn areas of the graveled roadway were 
repaired. Eight dead trees were cut down, and others were trimmed. 
Repairs were also made to the two Bulfinch lodges, and a new apron 
of cobblestones was laid across the end of the new asphalt street 
pavement at the entrance from 17th Street opposite E Street. The 
Ellipse as it appeared about 1898 is illustrated in figure 4-10, a 
photograph probably taken from the Washington Monument. 140 In 
1898-99, the gravel roadways and some of the asphalt walks were 
repaired further. The Treasury Department greenhouse and the 
photographic building were removed in preparation for the 
installation of the Sherman statue. Extensive screening plantings of 
trees and shrubs were set around the president's stables. 141 In 1899- 
1900 repairs were made to the stone gutters and to the broken joints 
in the stonework of the two Bulfinch lodges. A bridle path about a 


convention appearing in the background. The photograph (not a very clear one) was 
published in the Washington Post on Dec. 6, 1927, and a copy is at the OC/Treasury. 

139. Scott and Lee, Buildings of the District of Columbia, 207; Fogle, Proximity to Power, 
141-43. 

140. Annual Report, Chirf of Engineers, 1898, 3727. Tliis stereograph was published by 
Underwood and Underwood, see William C. Darrah, The World of Stereographs (Gettysburg, 
PA: W. C. Darrah, 1977), 46-48. This photograph might date from after 1902 since the 
colonnade of the west terrace is clearly visible and the conservatory on top has been 
removed. Information from Krause (E5F/WHL/NPS). 

141. Annual Report, Chief of Engineers, 1899, 3831-32. 


153 

Chapter 4. President's Park and the Army Corps of Engineers: 2865-J 901 



The Grounds of the Treasury' 
Building 


mile long was put in around the outer edge of the park. 142 Gravel and 
asphalt roads and paths were repaired the following year.’ 43 

In 1900 in preparation for the construction of Sherman Plaza, a large 
angular structure west of the current statue was built to facilitate 
the work. The Sherman statue was cast in this building, which also 
became the temporary residence for the sculptor. 144 


The Grounds of the Treasury Building 

Around 1865 views of the southeast lawn of the Treasury Building 
show parterres designed around a circular flower bed. Over the years 
the pattern was simplified and eventually replaced by a star 
pattern. 145 

Photographs from the 1860s indicate that the first outdoor lights on 
the Treasury Building stood at the old east front entrance at the top 
of the stairs, with one lamppost on either end of the stone staircase. 
Each fixture consisted of a singular post topped with one globe of 
lantern style, diamond-shaped in elevation, with triangular panes of 
glass held in metal frames. 146 After the building's south wing was 
completed in 1862, a second east side entrance was opened through 
the southeast pavilion. The approach to this door was made by a set 
of simple convex steps flanked by two lampposts on either side of the 
door. Details from these light posts appear in photos dating from 
1862 and 1867. The earliest photos of the south front, taken soon 
after the completion of the south wing, do not show any form of 
outdoor lighting. By 1870 two lampposts appear in front of the west 
entrance. 147 

The south front terrace, which extends to the street, was not 
constructed until 1869. Lampposts appeared for the first time on the 
south front in photographs and engravings dating between 1870 and 


142. Annual Report, Chief of Engineers, 1900, 5253. 

143. Annual Report, Chief of Engineers, 1901, 3706. 

144. Lori O. Thursby, "Statues: General William T Sherman Statue, Washington D.C." 
President's Park Notes, no. 1, Sept. 1999, p. 9 

145. Memo to John Rogers, "Fact Sheet — Treasury Building Landscaping," June 5, 1987, 
OC/Treasury. 

146. "Outdoor Lighting History of the Treasury Building," compiled from resources in 
the OC/Treasury, Dec. 1986. 

147. "Outdoor Lighting History of the Treasury Building." 


154 

Part 1: The Evolution of President’s Park 



1875. Mullet unified the exterior design of the Treasury Building by 
adding light fixtures to the south front terrace to complement those 
already in place on the west and north fronts. 148 

To allow for the construction of the north wing of the Treasury 
Building, the old State Department Building was demolished in 1 866. 
The addition was completed rather quickly, with work commencing 
in April 1867 and being completed by 1869. The work was under the 
direction of Alfred B. Mullett. 1 " 79 

In October 1867 an amateur artist, Mrs. M. L. Schreiner, sketched 
the west side of the Treasury, East Executive Avenue, and the 
northeast section of the grounds of the President's House (figure 4- 
11). The sketch is most valuable for its depiction of East Executive 
Avenue and its gate on Pennsylvania Avenue, but it also reveals some 
plantings along the west side of the Treasury Building behind the 
fence (whether they are small shrubs or large bedding plants cannot 
be determined). By 1870, just after the completion of the north 
wing, a large elaborate fountain had been erected in the north 
entrance court of the building. Figure 4-12 shows this fountain on 
the occasion of President Ulysses S. Grant's inaugural ball, March 4, 
1873. 

The iron fence between the President's House and the Treasury, pre- 
sumably along Pennsylvania Avenue, was removed in 1872 and put 
into place along East Executive Avenue. A light wire fence was sub- 
stituted between the President's House and the Treasury. 750 The 1877 
approved plan illustrated in figure 4-8 shows an elaborate layout for 
the grounds around the Treasury Building; it is not clear whether 
this layout was existing or proposed. In the 1890s the gates at East 
Executive Avenue were removed. In 1895-96 Wilson recommended 
improvements to the grounds outside the iron fence north of the 
Treasury Building. The result was probably the formal garden that 
appears in the Treasury's north court in photographs around the 
turn of the century (figure 4-1 3). 151 


148. "Outdoor Lighting History of the Treasury Building.’' 

149. Betty Bird, "Overview of the Architectural History of the U. S. Treasury Building," 
Sept. 6, 1984, 9. 

150. Annual Report, Chief of Engineers, 1872, 5. 

151. Annual Report, Chief of Engineers, 1896, 3985. 


The Grounds of the Treasury 
Building 


155 

Chapter 4. President 's Park and the Army Corps of Engineers: 1865-1901 



The Grounds of the State, War, 
and Navy Building 


The Grounds of the State, War, and Navy Building 

During the Civil War the old War and Navy Buildings were pushed 
to their limits, a situation that was exacerbated in 1866 when the old 
State Building was taken down to allow the completion of the 
Treasury Building. In December 1869 Congress created a commission 
to find a location for a new building. 153 Numerous earlier proposals 
had located a new structure on the same site as the old buildings. 
One of the proposals was probably the isometric view illustrated in 
figure 2-8. 153 Figure 4-14 is an 1869 wood engraving of Washington 
from the somewhat unusual point of view looking west over the old 
buildings toward the President's House, the Treasury, and the 
Capitol. While this is a beautiful view, some aspects of it are 
puzzling. The President's House, for example, appears to be placed 
too far to the south. 154 

Early in 1870 Secretary of State Hamilton Fish commissioned Alfred 
B. Mullett to design a new complex for the three departments. By 
April 16 Mullett had progressed sufficiently to present plans, now 
lost, which were probably in the Second Empire style ultimately 
adopted. Mullett's designs were accepted in 1871. Construction 
began on the south wing first, allowing the two existing buildings to 
remain functional until the new one was ready to be occupied. When 
completed in 1888 the State, War, and Navy complex was the largest 
office building in Washington, with 2 miles of corridors and 553 
rooms. 155 Early views and photographs show little landscaping, 
except for low boundary walls and fountains. Figure 4-15 is an 
1873 view of the State, War, and Navy Building from the south- 
west, in which these features appear. The 1877 approved plan for 
President's Park shown in figure 4-10 includes landscaping for the 
completed State, War, and Navy Building, but it is not clear if it was 
carried out. In 1895-96 the Office of Public Buildings and Grounds 
recommended the improvement of the northern part of the grounds 
outside the iron fencing in front of the State, War, and Navy 
Building. 156 


1 52. Lehman, et al., "Executive Office Building," 23-25. 

153. In the National Archives is a plan from January 1869 hy John Crump, a Philadelphia 
architect, that shows the footprint of a proposed new War Building, with a proposed 
extension to the south, all superimposed on the footprints of the existing Old War and Old 
Navy Buildings. Map Division, KG 121, NA, College Park, MD. 

154. Harper’s Weekly, Mar. 13, 1869; Reps, Washington on View, 171. 

1 55. Dolkart, The Old Executive Office Building. 

156. Annual Report, Chief of Engineers, 1896, 3985. 


156 

PART I: THE EVOLUTION OF PRESIDENT’S PARK 



Summary 


Summary 


Numerous projects were undertaken in President's Park between 
1865 and 1900. This suggests an effort to compensate for the lack of 
attention that the site had received during the Civil War years and, to 
a certain degree it reflects the great interest that President and Mrs. 
Hayes had in the White House grounds. East and West Executive 
Avenues were developed; the east terrace was demolished to make 
room for a new formal east entrance to the grounds with a pool and 
fountain and a one-story entrance colonnade. A new system of roads 
and walkways was made possible by extending the White House 
grounds to the south and also by removing the Jefferson wall. New 
iron fencing was installed around the enlarged southern grounds to 
match the one on the north. During this period proposals were made 
regarding the removal of the executive residence to different sites, 
and plans were developed at different times to significantly enlarge 
the White House. 

In 1877 the removal of the dilapidated bandstand temporarily 
suspended the tradition of weekly summer concerts by the Marine 
Band on the lawn. Two years later the Easter egg roll, one of the 
most colorful traditions associated with the White House grounds, 
was initiated. 

Between 1865 and 1900 renovations were made to Lafayette Square, 
including drainage improvements, regular maintenance of gravel 
walks, granite curbing around the park, and asphalt walks. New 
lampposts were installed, and a new watchman's lodge was built on 
the north side of the park. The iron fence around the site was 
removed and sent to the Gettysburg Memorial Association. The 
statue of Lafayette was erected at the southeast corner. 

The Ellipse was reconstructed following a modified version of Down- 
ing's original plan. Solving the serious drainage problems that the 
site had experienced up to this time required a major effort that took 
several years. The gatehouses designed by Charles Bulfinch for the 
Capitol were eventually relocated to their present location at the 
southwest and southeast corners of President's Park. In 1896 the 
section of the Ellipse just south of the Treasury was selected as the 
site for the Sherman statue. Recommendations were made to remove 
the Treasury Department photographic building, the greenhouses 
and an old iron fence to allow for the development of an area 
designed to harmonize with the Sherman statue. 

Public use of the Ellipse increased dramatically during this period. 
Applications for playing tennis, croquet, or cricket were rare, but 
interest was high in sports that were not allowed at that time, such 


357 

Chapter 4. President 's Park and the Army Corps of Engineers: J 865-3 901 



Summary 



as baseball and football. The popularity of the park was so high that 
pedestrian and bicycle use damaged the central lawn and the oval 
drive. An effort was made to accommodate equestrian use through 
the construction of a mile-long bridle path. 


With the completion of the north wing of the Treasury Building, 
landscaping began in earnest. By 1870 plantings had been installed 
along the west side, and a large fountain was erected in the north 
entrance court. In 1877 a plan was approved for an elaborate layout 
for the grounds around the building; but it is not clear if this plan 
was ever implemented. 


While the State, War, and Navy Building was completed in 1888, 
little progress was made in carrying out the 1877 landscaping plan. 


President Park's continued to attract talented designers. Alfred B. 
Mullett played a crucial role in several of the projects completed 
during this period. He supervised the construction of the north wing 
of the Treasury Building, and he designed the formal east entrance to 
the grounds, as well as the State, War, and Navy Building. When 
completed in 1888 the latter became the largest official building in 
Washington. 


158 

Part I: The Evolution of President's Park 




Figure 4-1: East Front of the White House from the 7 beasury Building. Stereograph, ca. 1870. Library of Congress, Prints and 
Photographs Division. 


159 

Chapter 4. President s Park and the Army Corps of Engineers: 1 865 - 1 90 1 




V 

= lr — 

=1 

_ 

L 

nin aovai 




Figure 4-2: Plan of the Front Part of the White House Grounds. John Stewart, 1873. National Archives, Cartographic and 
Architectural Records, Records of the National Park Service, Record Group 79. 


160 

Part 1: The Evoujtion or- President’s Park 






Figure 4-3: The White House from the South. Frances Benjamin Johnston (photograph), ca. 1890. Library of Congress, Prints 
and Photographs Division. 



161 

Chapter •( President's Park and the Army Corps of Engineers: 1 865- 1901 










Figure 4-4: Egg Rolling, Easter Monday. Frances Benjamin Johnston (photograph), 1898. Library of Congress, Prints and 
Photographs Division 


16 2 

Part I: The Evolution of President's Park 




Figure 4-5: While House Greenhouses from the West . Corps of Engineers, Annu.il Report (photograph), 1900. National 
Archives, Still Pictures, Records of the Office of the Chief of Engineers, Record Group 77. 


163 

Chapter 9. President's Park and the Army Corps of Engineers 1 865- J 90 1 






§ 

. 1 

1 ■ 

-pi 1 

P * 

k:!k) ££ 

I 


; l_ if i 





Figure 4 6: North Front of the White House with Plantings. Corps of Engineers, Annual Report (photograph). 1900 Office of 
the Curator, The White House. 



764 

Part 1: The Evolution of President's Park 





Figure 4 7: Plan of Lafayette Square. J. Stewart, 1881. Updated to ca. 1915. National Archives, Cartographic and 
Architectural Records, Records of the National Park Service, Record Group 79. 


165 

Chapter 4 President's I’.irk amt the Army Corps of Engineers: 1 865 - 1 90 1 







. 4 


• 

• 


0 

4 

4 


4 


• 

d 

L 

• 1 




Figure 4-8: Plan for the President's Pork, Excluding Lafayette Park. Office of the Chief of 
Engineers, 1877. National Archives, Cartographic and Architectural Records, Records of the 
National Park Service, Record Group 79. 



7 66 

Part I: The Evolution of President's Park 




Figure 4-9: The Ellipse under Construction. Photograph, ca. 1880. Copied from "The President's Garden: An Account of the 
White House Gardens from 1800 to the Present," by Eleanor M. McFcck. National Capital Parks, Washington, D.C., 1971. 


167 

diopter 4 President's Pork ond the Army Corps of Engineers: 1865 - 1 90 1 







Figure 4-10: The Ellipse. Underwood and Underwood (stereograph), ca. 1898. National Park Service, Frederick Law Olmsted 
National Historic Site. 


168 

Part 1: The Evolution of President's Park 










169 

Chapter 4. President's Park ,ind the Army Corps of Engineers: 1 865- 1901 




Figure 4 12: North Front Entrance Court of the treasury Building (showing fountain at the Inaugural Ball of Ulysses 5 (Irani ) 
Wood engraving, March 1H7.1. Office of the Curator, The Treasury. 


170 

Past I: The Evolution of President’s Park 





Figure 4-13: Formal Garden in North Treasury Plaza. Photograph, 1901 Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs 
Division. 


Chapter 4 President's Park and the Army Corps oj Engineers:! 865-1901 





Figure 4-14: Washington City, D C. Theodore Davis (sketch). Harper's Weekly, March 13, 1869. Library of Congress, Prints 
and Photographs Division. 


172 

Part I: The Evolution of President's Park 







Figure 4-15: The State, War, and Navy Building (.southwest view). Henry Ixivie, 1873. Washingtoniana Collection, Martin 
Luther King Memorial Library. 



173 

Chapter -t President's Park and the Army Corps of Engineers: 1 865 - 1 901 







Chapter 5. President's Park and the 
Influence of the McMillan Plan: 
1901-1929 


B etween 1901 and 1929 President's Park evolved gradually.’ 
During this period the influence of the McMillan plan for 
central Washington was significant, but it affected Presi- 
dent's Park less than the Mall and other areas of the city. Its 
greatest impact on President's Park was averting the massive 
enlargement or the relocation of the President's House that had been 
proposed since at least the late 1860s. Its most important single 
recommendation was to restore the axial relationships between the 
Capitol, the Washington Monument, and the White House. 2 The 
Senate Park Commission’s report, which many consider to be the 
first city-planning document of its kind, was received enthusi- 
astically. The City Beautiful ideal, of which the McMillan plan was 
but one manifestation, was the predominant urban planning move- 
ment of the early 20th century, and it influenced many schemes for 
President’s Park; the majority, however, were never implemented. 

During the Theodore Roosevelt administration the White House 
underwent the first major reconstruction since 1818. Building the 
east terrace and wings and eliminating the large greenhouse complex 
made it possible for the first time to establish clearly defined and 
partially enclosed gardens to the east and west of the south portico. 


1. Officers in charge under the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers during this period 
included Theodore A. Bingham (1897-1903), Thomas W. Symons (1903-4), Charles S. 
Bromwell (1904-9), Spencer Cosby (1909-13), William W. Harts (1913-17), Clarence S. 
Ridley (1917-1921), and Clarence O. Sherrill (1921-25). In 1925 Congress established the 
Office of Public Buildings and Public Parks of the National Capital, combining the 
responsibilities of the officer in charge of public buildings and grounds and the 
superintendent of the State, War, and Navy Building. The directors were Clarence Sherrill 
(1925) and Ulysses S. Grant 111 (1925-33). Dowd, Records of Public Buildings and Public 
Parks, 38-39, 77. 

2. The only physical legacy of the McMillan plan on President's Park is the Treasury 
Annex on Madison Place, the Chamber of Commerce on H Street, and the Commerce 
Building on 15th Street. Outside the study area the following features were implemented: 
(1) the construction of the Lincoln Memorial and its reflecting pool to the west of the 
Washington Monument, (2) the construction of Memorial Bridge across the Potomac 
River from the Lincoln Memorial to Arlington, (3) the removal of the train station and 
tracks from the Mall and the construction of Union Station, and (4) the return of an open 
vista on the Mall from the Capitol to the Washington Monument, with large government 
buildings along the Mall. Information provided by Krause (ESF/WH1/NPS). 


175 

Chapter 5. President’s Park and the Influence of the McMillan Plan: 1901-1929 



President's Park acquired a large number of commemorative statues 
and memorials. In Lafayette Park statues of the Comte de Rocham- 
beau, Major General Frederick Wilhem von Steuben, and Brigadier 
General Tadeusz (Thaddeus) Kosciuszko joined those of Jackson and 
Lafayette. Near the Ellipse the statue of General William T. Sherman 
was placed south of the Treasury Building, and a memorial to the 
Dead of the First Division, American Expeditionary Forces, of World 
War I was built south of the State, War, and Navy Building. In 
addition, the Zero Milestone and the Butt-Millet memorial fountain 
were installed. A statue of Alexander Hamilton was erected at the 
south entrance of the Treasury Building, but in general the grounds 
of the Treasury Building and the State, War, and Navy Building 
underwent only minor modifications. The emphasis on statuary and 
memorials in President's Park is typical of the capital as a whole 
during this period. 

Presidents continued to influence decisions regarding the evolution of 
the site. Theodore Roosevelt was instrumental in ensuring that the 
President's House would stay in its historic location and in officially 
adopting the term "The White House." When asked, he gave Charles 
Moore (Senator McMillan's political secretary) authorization to 
quote him, saying that: "Mrs. Roosevelt and I are firmly of the 
opinion that the President should live nowhere else than in the 
historic White House." 3 His wife, however, was less successful, as 
she failed to prevent the removal of the controversial greenhouses 
and conservatory. 

Commemorative tree plantings by presidents and their wives became 
a firmly established custom, particularly during the Theodore Roose- 
velt administration. Roosevelt's interest in forestry was undoubtedly 
a contributing factor. Although relatively few commemorative trees 
survive from this period, the practice has continued uninterrupted to 
this day. 

Ellen Axson Wilson followed the tradition of first family involve- 
ment in design projects for the White House grounds. She was 
instrumental in redesigning the two colonial gardens that had been 
built under the Theodore Roosevelt administration. 

Weekly summer concerts by the Marine Band continued on the 
south lawn almost uninterrupted during this period. They were 
briefly moved to the Ellipse during World War I because of security 
considerations. They returned to the White House grounds in 1919 
after the war ended. Five years later documentation on these concerts 


3. Seale, The President's House, 657. 


3 76 

Part 1: The Evolution of President's Park 



ends. It is possible that with the inauguration of the Sullivan Theatre 
in 1924 and the increasing popularity of the radio, the event no 
longer attracted the public. 

Another important practice began during this period — building 
specific recreational amenities for presidents and their families. It 
started with the construction of a tennis court for Alice Roosevelt. 
After its removal, another tennis court was built for President Taft's 
daughter. In 1919 the south lawn was used as the grounds for a 
yearly May reception for convalescent veterans. 

This period witnessed the installation of two of the most widely used 
street lights in Washington. Named after the Commission of Fine 
Arts members who participated in their design, the Millet lamppost 
with a single lamp was first installed in 1912, the Bacon double 
lamppost in 1 923. 

Recognizing the physical and mental benefits of exercise, during this 
period park planners equipped the larger city parks for sports. In the 
1920s the Ellipse had areas for archery, baseball, croquet, and tennis. 

Warren Harding seems to have been the first president who began 
posing for photographs and greeting official groups of visitors near 
the west garden, now known as the Rose Garden. Mrs. Harding 
organized parties and greeted people on the grounds. 

The nation's leading architects and landscape architects continued to 
participate in developing designs for President's Park. The list of 
notables includes Frederick Law Olmsted Jr., Charles Follen McKim, 
Cass Gilbert, Daniel Burnham, and Beatrix Farrand. However, as 
before, relatively few of the proposed plans were fully implemented. 


The McMillan Plan 

Background of the Plan 

The McMillan plan grew out of the collaborative design of the hugely 
successful World's Columbian Exposition of 1893 in Chicago. Of the 
four members of the Senate Park Commission of 1901, usually 
referred to as the McMillan Commission, three — architect Charles 
Follen McKim, architect and planner Daniel Burnham, and sculptor 
Augustus Saint-Gaudens — had played prominent roles in the 
planning of the World's Columbian Exposition, The fourth, 
landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted Jr., was too young to 
have been a part of this enterprise, but his father, Frederick Law 


The McMillan Plan 


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Chapter 5. President's Park and the Influence of the McMillan Plan: 1 901 -1 929 



The McMillan Plan 


Olmsted Sr., was the landscape architect of the Chicago Exposition/ 
Except for Saint-Gaudens, whose health began failing at this time, all 
the members of the commission had extensive later involvement 
with the planning and architectural development of Washington, 
either at President's Park or elsewhere in the city. 4 5 

In 1898, to prepare for the centennial of the transfer of government 
from Philadelphia to Washington, a citizens committee was formed 
to arrange for an appropriate observance and a permanent memorial. 
In 1 900 Theodore Bingham, the officer in charge of the public build- 
ings and grounds, prepared a preliminary plan of his own for 
improving the layout of the central city, possibly with the help of 
local architect Frederick D. Owen. Bingham had made an extensive 
study of L'Enfant's life, plan, and writings, and he later contracted 
with landscape architect Samuel Parsons Jr. to carry the study 
further. The plan proposed by Bingham, Owen, and Parsons aroused 
a concerted wave of opposition, which was largely orchestrated by 
Glenn Brown, the newly elected secretary of the American Institute 
of Architects (AIA) and the author of a book on the history of the 
capital city. Protests came not only from artists and architects, but 
also from the general public. In August 1900 Brown published his 
own proposal for Washington in Architectural Review. 6 

Brown also helped Robert S. Peabody, a pre-eminent Boston architect 
and president of the American Institute of Architects, to organize the 
group's convention in Washington in December 1900. The planning 
of Washington would be the theme for the meeting. In the course of 
the convention, numerous architects such as Cass Gilbert, Paul J. 
Pelz, George O. Totten Jr., and Edgar V. Seeler presented proposals 
for a new city plan. Although he did not present a plan, Frederick 
Law Olmsted Jr. read a persuasive address on the subject in which he 
advocated returning to the principles of L'Enfant. 7 

At about the same time, Frederick Owen's proposal for a massive en- 
largement of the White House, prepared for the McKinley adminis- 
tration, added fuel to the fire (see page 139). On December 12, 1900, 


4. Newton, Design on the Land, 353-71. 

5. Saint-Gaudens was diagnosed with cancer in 1900; he lived in Cornish, New 
Hampshire, until his death in 1907. For more information on his life and career, see 
Kathy Greenthal, Augustas Sain-Gaudens, Master Sculptor (New York: Metropolitan 
Museum of Art, 1985), and John H. Dryfliout, The Work of Augustus Saint-Gaudens 
(Hanover, NH: The University Press of New England, 1982). 

6. Reps, Monumental Washington, 70-84. 

7. Reps, Monumental Washington, 85-92. All the plans are illustrated. See also McCue, 
The Octagon, 71-73. 


178 

PART I: THE EVOLUTION OF PRESIDENT’S PARK 



The McMillan Plan 


these plans were displayed at a centennial luncheon at the White 
House, where they, like the Bingham/Owen/Parsons city plan, pro- 
voked intense opposition from the American Institute of Architects, 
as well as from Sen. James McMillan of Michigan, chairman of the 
Senate Committee on the District of Columbia, and from the general 
public. Senator McMillan was especially outraged, since he had urged 
a study of the District's parks, and it was proposed that this 
appropriation, so far unused, be spent to enlarge the White House. 
McMillan then introduced a resolution that his committee should 
secure the services of experts to study and report on the entire park 
system of Washington. The Senate adopted the resolution on March 
8, 1901. McMillan wanted to obtain the services of Frederick Law 
Olmsted Sr., whose work he had admired at the Columbian Expo- 
sition, but Olmsted was by then ailing and retired. McMillan turned 
to Frederick Law Olmsted Jr., only 31 at the time, as well as to 
Daniel Burnham, director of the works at the Columbian Exposition. 
Since an additional architect was needed, Burnham and Olmsted Jr. 
recommended Charles Follen McKim. Daniel Burnham, the oldest 
member of the group, was designated chairman. Senator McMillan 
also assigned his political secretary, Charles Moore, a former Detroit 
newspaperman, to assist the commission. 8 


The Development of the Plan 

Burnham’s idea was that the group should take a European tour to 
study major examples of landscape architecture and city planning on 
a monumental scale, especially those that had influenced L'Enfant. 
Before leaving, they toured sites in Virginia, including Williamsburg 
and the plantations of Upper and Lower Brandon, Westover, and 
Shirley. On June 13, 1901, Burnham, McKim, Olmsted, and Moore 
left for Europe (Saint-Gaudens was too ill to go). Olmsted had 
traveled extensively with his father and drew up the itinerary. In 
London they toured Hyde Park, Hatfield, Hampton Court, and 
Windsor Great Park, and in Paris the masterpieces of Andr£ Le N6tre 


8. The McMillan plan is discussed especially thoroughly in Reps, Monumental Washing- 
ton, 94-154. See also Seale, The President's House, 654-57; Frederick Gutheim, Worthy of the 
Nation: The History of Planning for the National Capital, prepared for National Capital Planning 
Commission. (Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1977), 113-36; Frederick 
Gutheim and Wiicomb E. Washburn, The Federal City: Plans and Realities (Washington, DC: 
Smithsonian Institution Press, in cooperation with the National Capital’ Planning 
Commission, 1976), 86-91; Newton, Design on the Land, 400-12; Thomas S. Hines, "The 
Imperial Mall: The City Beautiful Movement and the Washington Plan of 1901-1902," in 
Longstreth, ed.. The Mall in Washington, 79-99; and Jon A. Peterson, "The Mall, the 
McMillan Plan, and the Origins of American City Planning," in Longstreth, ed., The Mall in 
Washington, 100-15. 


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Chapter 5. President's Park and the Influence of the McMillan Plan: 1901-1929 



The McMillan Flan 


— the Tuileries Gardens, Fontainebleau, and Vaux-le-Vicomte, as 
well as the Bois de Boulogne and the Luxembourg Gardens. Aware 
that L'Enfant had spent Iris boyhood at Versailles, they examined 
those gardens (Le Notre's most famous work), as well as the town 
plan. In and near Rome, they examined Hadrian's Villa, the Villa 
d'Este, the Villa Medici, the Villa Borghese, the Villa Madama, and 
the Villa Lante, as well as the Piazza San Pietro. In addition, they 
went to Venice, Vienna, Budapest, and Frankfurt. At all these sites 
they took photographs and sometimes made measurements. 9 

By the time they returned to New York the basic elements of the new 
Washington plan had been formulated. More precise design studies 
were needed, however, and these were worked out later. McMillan 
arranged to have part of the Senate Press Gallery turned into a 
drafting room. Here, James G. Langdon, a member of the Olmsted 
Brothers firm, supervised a group in assembling base maps; 
however, much of the architectural design work took place in 
McKim’s New York office. Olmsted, with the assistance of Thomas 
Sears and Percival Gallagher, assumed the primary responsibility for 
designing parks and everything relating to landscape architecture. 10 

McMillan, Moore, and the three designers were not only concerned 
with the content of the study, but they also felt strongly that, in 
order to gain sufficient support, it should be presented to the public 
as vividly and effectively as possible. One element, of course, would 
be a detailed, illustrated report, to be written jointly by Moore and 
Olmsted. In addition, a large contingent of commercial artists and 
illustrators was hired to prepare large color renderings, and a Boston 
model maker, George C. Curtis, was engaged to make two large 
topographic models at a scale of 1 foot to t,000 feet under Olmsted's 
supervision. Some of the photographs taken on the study tour (for 
example, the Tuileries Gardens, and the Long Walk at Windsor 
Castle) were enlarged. The Corcoran Gallery exhibited the drawings 
and models beginning January J5, 1902. 11 

At the exhibition two models showing the present and future 
Washington were displayed side by side under dramatic lighting. 
President Theodore Roosevelt, who was at first critical of the sunken 
garden plan for the Washington Monument, was completely won 


9. Reps, Monumental Washington, 94-98; Newton, Design on the Land, 405; Charles 
Moore, 'the Life and Times of Charles Follen McKim (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1929), 
187-99. 

10. Reps, Monumental Washington, 98-9; Moore, McKim, 199-201. 

11. Reps, Monumental Washington, 100-6; Moore, McKim, 200-1; Gutheim and 
Washburn, The Federal City, 89. 


180 


PARTI: THE EVOLUTION OF PRESIDENT'S PARK 



The McMillan Plan 


over as he examined the scheme closely. On the same day that the 
exhibition opened, McMillan officially presented the report to the 
Senate. Public reaction to both the report and the exhibition was im- 
mediate and overwhelmingly positive. 11 However, as McMillan him- 
self pointed out, the task was an enormous one, "greater than any 
one generation can hope to accomplish," but commitment to the 
plan would result in the preservation and thoughtful expansion of 
"the city which Washington and Jefferson planned with so much 
care and with such prophetic vision." 13 McMillan himself spoke with 
prophetic vision, since it would be many decades before the recom- 
mendations of the huge, ambitious scheme proposed in the. plan pub- 
lished under his name would be even partly realized. 

The Senate Park Commission's report was received enthusiastically 
by the press. Moore wrote a two-part article for The Century Maga- 
zine, and some of the plans were published in other periodicals, 
where the interested public could more easily study them. 1 ' 1 News- 
paper coverage was also extensive, especially in Washington papers, 
as well as the New York Times, where the noted architectural critic 
Montgomery Schuyler reviewed and analyzed the plan in the most 
laudatory terms. Professional journals such as The American Architect 
and Architectural Record gave the McMillan plan almost unqualified 
praise. At the same time. Senator McMillan began to test the waters 
for the formal approval and massive appropriations that would be 
necessary to execute the plan. On March 22, 1902, McKim and 
Saint-Gaudens, whose health was by then improved, came down 
from New York, and together with Moore, they staked the site of the 
Lincoln Memorial. 15 On August 11, 1902, however. Senator 
McMillan died suddenly at his summer home in Massachusetts. 16 


12. Reps, Monumental Washington, 107-8. 

13. Senate Committee on the District of Columbia, The Improvement of the Park System of 
the District of Columbia (Washington, DC, 1902), 19, as quoted in Reps, Monumental 
Washington, 109. 

14. Charles Moore, "The Improvement of Washington City," The Century Magazine 63, 
nos. 4 and 5 (February and March 1902): 621-8 and 747-57. 

15. Reps, .Monumental Washington, 139-43. 

16. Moore, McKim, 21 7. 


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Chapters. President's Park and the Influence of the McMillan Plan: 1901-1929 



The McMillan Plan 


The Elements of the Plan 


.An illustration from the Senate Park Commission report clearly 
depicts the proposal for central Washington: a diagram showing 
proposed building sites (figure 5-1). From the beginning, Burnham, 
McKim, Olmsted, and Moore had sought to reclaim for the central 
city the monumental simplicity and dignity that had been the essen- 
tial feature of the L'Enfant plan. Over the years, haphazard building 
in the vicinity of the Capitol and Mall, including the yards of the 
Baltimore and Potomac Railroad and the ever-expanding greenhouses 
of the Botanic Garden, had impaired the central concepts. 17 

The single most important recommendation of the McMillan plan 
was to restore the axial relationships between the Capitol, the 
Washington Monument, and the White House. This would require 
the removal of the railroad, the greenhouses and other buildings, and 
that portion of Downing's plan that had been implemented on the 
Mall. Although Downing was not mentioned by name, the report 
describes some parts of the Mall as "highly developed according to 
the landscape art of the day." Nevertheless, his plan was erased from 
the Senate Park Commission's proposals for the Mall, as was James 
Renwick's romantic "castle" home of the Smithsonian Institution. 
Because of engineering problems that made it impossible to build 
adequate foundations, the Washington Monument had ultimately 
been constructed off-axis to both the Capitol and the White House. 
Obviously the monument could not be moved, but the commission 
proposed an ingenious "correction," which would be achieved by 
providing an on-axis landscaped setting for the monument. 18 

The setting for the Washington Monument was to be a great sunken 
garden, with fountains, grottos, and cascades somewhat reminiscent 
of Le Notre’s first masterpiece, Vaux-le-Vicomte. At the north end of 
the north-south axis, which would pass through the central pool in 
the sunken garden, the White House would be visible. However, 
when more detailed studies were done for the proposed garden, it 
was found that the excavation necessary for construction would 
threaten the monument's structural stability. To this day, the 
Washington Monument has a relatively simple landscape setting. At 
the south end of the north-south axis, additional monuments or 
memorials were proposed where the Jefferson Memorial now stands, 
and at the west end of the east-west axis, a memorial to Abraham 


1 7. Leach and Barlhold, "L'Enfant Plan of the City of Washington," sec. 8, p. 31-33. 

18. Reps cites the entire section of the report dealing with central Wasliington in 
Monumental Washington, 1 1 2-21 . 


182 

Part 1: The Evolution of President’s Park 



Lincoln was planned. The east-west axis was also to be rectified, so 
that the Capitol and the Washington Monument would appear to be 
aligned. 19 

Little was said in the report about the Ellipse, except that the "White 
Lot" (a term that persisted into the 20th century) would be retained 
as the great drill ground of the District. But Downing's wooded 
groves and meandering walks on either side of the main space, which 
had been constructed in the late 1870s and early 1880s, were to be 
replaced by four symmetrical rows of linden trees along 15th Street 
and four more rows along 1 7th Street, which would tempt people 
"from the hot and busy streets of the city to the cool and quiet of the 
gardens or to the field of sports beyond." 20 Although the White 
House grounds were not specifically discussed in the report, a draw- 
ing of the vista south from the White House shows no division 
except a road between these grounds and the Ellipse and no planting 
whatsoever at the southern edge of the White House grounds. 21 

The report gave considerable attention to the grouping of new 
buildings to serve the executive departments. After reviewing two 
alternative solutions — the proposed massive expansion of the White 
House to accommodate both the president's home and executive 
offices and the conversion of the White House to offices exclusively, 
with the president's home relocated elsewhere — the commission 
made the following recommendation: 

The Commission are of the opinion that while temporary 
quarters may well be constructed in the grounds of the 
White House, a building sufficient in size to accommodate 
those offices may best be located in the center of Lafayette 
Square. 11 

This was either a misprint or a misstatement, since the text goes on 
to recommend that the executive departments occupy "a series of 
edifices facing Lafayette Square," and this is what is shown on the 
plan. It is further clarified by the suggestion that the realization of 
the proposal might begin by constructing office buildings in the 
square bounded by Pennsylvania Avenue, Jackson Place, H Street, 


19. Reps, Monumental Washington, 119-26, 137; Moore, McKim, 196-97. 

20. Senate Committee, Improvement of the Park System, 1902, as quoted in Reps, 
Monumental Washington, 121. 

21. Reps, Monumental Washington, fig. 69, p. 125. 

22. Senate Committee, Improvement of the Park System, as quoted in Reps, Monumental 
Washington, 132. 


The McMillan Plan 


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Chapter 5. President's Park and the Influence of the McMillan Plan: 1 901-1 929 



The McMillan Plan 


and Seventeenth Street. 23 When the drawings and models were 
viewed by Secretaries John Hay and Elihu Root, Hay was so enthusi- 
astic that he said: "To show you how 1 feel: even my house can go to 
carry out the scheme of having Executive Department buildings 
around Lafayette Square." He added, however, that his house, a 
magnificent structure on the north side of the square designed by H. 
H. Richardson, would probably not be needed for offices during his 
lifetime. 1 '’ 

The idea of building in the center of Lafayette Square was not new in 
1901. As early as 1836 Alexander Jackson Davis had sketched a 
proposed office building in the center of the square. And as late as 
1923 the Beaux-Arts Society held their annual Paris Prize in 
Architecture to design a building with executive office space and suite 
for official receptions in Lafayette Square with an underground 
connection to the White House. 25 

In 1922 planner Elbert Peets published an analysis of Washington, 
which was essentially a critique of both the L'Enfant and McMillan 
plans and was published in his and Werner Hegemann's The American 
Vitruvius. Peets also took exception to the placing of any buildings in 
Lafayette Square but observed that this was not shown in the plans. 
He also pointed out that the building of the southern wing of the 
Treasury Building did not shut off a perfect vista but that 
Pennsylvania Avenue was incorrectly aligned. 16 


23. Reps, Monumental Washington, 132, 135. 

24. As quoted in Moore, McKim, 203; the McMillan plan’s recommendation for 
executive office buildings around Lafayette Square undoubtedly derived from a scheme 
for the square proposed by Cass Gilbert during the 1 900 American Institute of Architects 
meeting. Many years later, Gilbert designed the Treasury Annex at the corner of 
Pennsylvania Avenue and Madison Place (1917-18) and the Chamber of Commerce 
Building at 1615 H Street (1929). The Treasury Annex was originally supposed to extend 
the entire length of Madison Place, but only the southern third was constructed; Scott 
and Lee, Buildings of the District of Columbia, 53, 161-64. 

25. Information provided by Krause (ESF/WHL/NPS). Drawings in Public Buildings 
Service at Cartographic and Architectural Branch, RG 121, NA. 

26. Werner Hcgemann and Elbert Peets, 7>ie American Vitruvius: An Architect's Handbook of 
Civic Art, edited with an introduction by Alan J. Plattus, preface by Leon Krier, and 
introductory essay by Christiane Crasemann Collins (New York: Princeton Architectural 
Press, 1988, reprint of 1922 edition), 284-95. Chapter 7, "The Plan of Washington," was 
written by Peets, based on a study he made when he spent a year in Washington during 
World War 1 as a member of the Camp Planning Section of the Construction Division. 


184 

Part 1: The Evolution of President's Park 



The Grounds of the White House 


The Grounds of the White House 


During the Theodore Roosevelt administration, Charles Follen McKim 
directed the first major reconstruction of the White House since 
1818. The rebuilding of the east terrace and wings and the elimina- 
tion of the large greenhouse complex (figure 4-5) made possible for 
the first time the establishment of clearly defined and partially 
enclosed gardens to the east and west of the south portico. 

The issue of enlarging the White House had precipitated the Senate 
Park Commission's comprehensive rethinking of the plan for the 
city. Despite the protracted stalemate on the implementation of the 
McMillan plan, the related proposal to enlarge and redesign the 
White House moved forward rapidly. In April 1902 McKim was 
authorized to proceed, being given sole responsibility for the design. 
McKim's project was massive and involved the wholesale removal of 
a great deal of historic fabric and most of the existing furnishings. 
Only through the intervention of First Lady Edith Carow Roosevelt 
were some paintings and pieces of furniture associated with earlier 
presidents saved. 27 

On the exterior McKim planned to reconstruct the east terrace (which 
had been removed in 1866 by Alfred Mullet) and to restore the west 
terrace, as they had been in Jefferson's lime. All office functions were 
to be removed to a temporary Executive Office Building at the end of 
the west terrace. A new entrance pavilion for social functions was 
constructed at the end of the east terrace. With the construction of 
the pavilion, a new carriageway was added, and the east wing steps 
were reconfigured and reduced. Carriage gates and piers were built as 
well, and lighting fixtures were added to the east and west terraces. 28 
The anthemion railing at the parapet in the front of the house and 
the ornamental anthemion railing between the portico columns were 
removed. The latter was replaced with a solid masonry wall. The 
mesh fencing installed in the 1850s was retained along the south 
carriage drive; it was extended west to enclose the tennis court area, 
as well as the east and west gardens in an effort to provide privacy 


27. William Rutherford Mead, the business partner, was in charge of financial 
arrangements. Construction was in the hands of O. W. Norcross of Norcross Brothers of 
Worcester, Massachusetts, which had been the preferred contractor for McKim, Mead & 
White for many years, as well as for many other noted architects, including H. H. 
Richardson and his successor firm, Sheplcy, Rutan and Coolidge. Seale, The President's 
House, 659-84; and Moore, McKim, 204-22. See also James F. O'Gorman, "O. W. Norcross, 
Richardson's 'Master Builder': A Preliminary Report," Journal of the Society of Architectural 
Historians 32, no. 2 (May 1973), 104-13. 

28. Information courtesy of Krause (E5F/WHiyNP5), June 15, 2000. 


185 

Chapter 5. President's Park and the Influence of the McMillan Plan: 1 901-1 929 



The Grounds of the While House 


for the president and his family in the newly designated east and 
west gardens. 2 ’ 

A greenhouse was planned on the south grounds near the current 
maintenance building. However, the existing greenhouses and con- 
servatory would have to be demolished, Mrs. Roosevelt objected 
strongly to their removal, mostly for practical reasons, since it 
would be difficult to find other sources to supply the large numbers 
of flowers needed for decorating and gifts. Henry Pfister, who 
pleaded for the rare plants that he had spent years collecting, sup- 
ported her. Colonel Bingham, a greenhouse enthusiast, also wanted 
to keep these structures. Finally, on July 2, 1902, McKim and 
Charles Moore traveled to Sagamore Hill on Lung Island, the 
Roosevelts' summer place at Oyster Bay. During a somewhat rushed 
conference with the first lady, they agreed that the greenhouses 
would be removed, except for those of iron or steel construction, 
which would be reassembled at another location on the White House 
grounds. Additional greenhouses for the use of the White House 
would be built in the propagating gardens near the Washington 
Monument. This agreement was written up formally and became 
known as "The Treaty of Oyster Bay." McKim kept only the last part 
of the agreement, since none of the old greenhouses was ever rebuilt 
on the White House grounds. 30 

In February 1903 McKim and Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. began 
studying the immediate grounds of the White House, even though 
Olmsted had been given no formal commission for this work. On 
February 16 McKim wrote to Olmsted: "The garden to the south is 
to be extremely simple . . . something of the character of Mount 
Vernon, namely division into parterres, surrounded with close cut 
hedges." 3 ’ He enclosed a "General Plan of the President’s House and 
Grounds" (figure 5-2), which included two large formal gardens, 
each divided by paths into quadrants, to the southwest and 


29. Information courtesy of Krause (E5F/WHL/NP5), June 16, 2000. 

30. Seale, The President's House , 667-69; Moore, McKim, 215-16. In 1903 beautiful but 
highly idealized drawings showing the White House after the McKim reconstruction were 
made by the eminent artist Jules Gufrin and published in The Century Magazine to 
illustrate an article on the restoration. See Charles Moore, "The Restoration of the White 
House," The Century Magazine 65, no. 6 (April 1903), 806-31. A drawing of the south 
side of the White House from below the fountain makes the White House appear as if 
isolated in a remote country setting, its south front framed by the delicate bare branches 
of winter trees arranged in formal allies. 

31. NP5, "The President's Garden," quoting McKim to Olmsted, Feb. 16, 1903, Olmsted 
Associates Papers, Library of Congress. It is unclear under which job this letter might be 
filed. Job No. 2827, "White House," which is the job under which the two drawings are 
filed, does not have any correspondence file at the Library of Congress. 


186 

PartI: The Evolution of President's Park 



southeast of the house. A suggested internal layout was shown for 
one of the quadrants. Although simple in design, these gardens 
would have been more than twice as large as the present ones. On 
February 20 Olmsted prepared a "Sketch Showing Proposed Im- 
provements on North Side” (figure 5-3), showing a simpler 
arrangement of drives and paths than McKim seemed to have had in 
mind. Olmsted's plan proposed a service road from the west service 
court to a new gate on West Executive Avenue and a path from the 
north drive to the west terrace, with a bridge crossing over the 
service road. McKim's plan located the service road along the west 
terrace and a driveway to the West Wing. 

As constructed, the gardens have no relationship to McKim's plan. 32 
Soon after architectural work on the terraces was completed, a 
formal garden was laid out on the southwest, where the glass rose 
house had stood. Trees and shrubs were hauled in, and the garden 
was constructed on the site of today's Rose Garden. A similar garden 
was established on the east side of the south portico, the site of 
today's Jacqueline Kennedy Garden. 33 

The drawing in figure 5-2 also shows the outline of a new tennis 
court south of the new Executive Office Building. The tennis court, 
designed for the president's daughter, Alice, was said to be "most 
carefully laid out, with a dirt floor rolled hard and as level as a 
billiard table, and surrounded by a fence of wire net 10 feet high. 
Already it has been referred to by the casual joker as the "royal 
court.” 34 At the same time Mrs. Roosevelt planned roof gardens with 
potted trees and flowering plants on both the east and west 
terraces. 35 Figure 5-4, a photograph taken in 1903, shows the west 
wing and the Roosevelt tennis court from the State, War, and Navy 
Building. Just to the east of the tennis court may also be seen the 
recently constructed clothes drying yard surrounded by an 8-foot 


32. The Roosevelts supposedly asked the advice of their friend, the novelist and garden 
writer, Edith Wharton, who was shortly to publish an influential book on Italian villas 
and their gardens. However, several photographs of the colonial gardens have survived, 
and they do not appear to reflect Wharton's taste; Edith Wharton, Italian Villas and Their 
Gardens, with illustrations by Maxfield Parrish (New York: Da Capo Press, Inc., 1976, 
reprint of 1904 edition.) 

33. Seale, The President's House , 680-81, 713, note 42. 

34. Rene Bache, "White House Roof Gardens Planned by Mrs. Roosevelt" lelipping from 
unidentified newspapcrl, .July 12, 1903. 

35. Bache, "White House Roof Gardens." 


The Grounds of the White House 


187 

Chapters. President's Park and the Influence of the McMillan Plan: 1901-1929 



The Grounds of the White House 


lattice fence, which was south of the west wing next to the laundry 
room, in the location of today's Rose Garden.- 36 

For the fiscal year 1901-2 routine repairs were done to the green- 
houses and the stable. Spring bulbs and summer bedding plants were 
installed, and "unsightly" trees were removed. 37 In 1902 Thomas W. 
Symons succeeded Bingham as officer in charge of the public 
buildings and grounds and Charles S. Bromwell followed him on 
April 26, 1903. 38 In 1902-3 Bingham and Symons reported in 
considerable detail on the rebuilding of the White House. Grading 
was done near the new east terrace. The recently constructed west 
garden (located where the Rose Garden is today) was laid out. The 
existing driveway on the north side of the house was reduced in 
width. A new carriage drive was developed on the west side of the 
grounds to access the main entrance of the West Wing. 39 

On February 22, 1904, President and Mrs. Theodore Roosevelt 
planted two fern-leaf beeches near the east entrance of the White 
House.' 10 On April 6, 1904, Theodore Roosevelt planted a Daimyo 
oak. None of these trees has survived.' 11 

The roadways north of the east and west terraces and under the 
portico of the east terrace were repaved with asphalt in 1 903-4. The 
gravel walks on the south grounds were also resurfaced. For the first 
time it was reported that "the ground immediately south of the two 
terraces was laid out into colonial (herbaceous) flower gardens. 
Gravel walks were constructed, shrubs and plants set out, a privet 
hedge planted around three sides of it, and flower beds made." 41 Both 
of these colonial gardens were illustrated in the commissioner's 
report for 1904 (figures 5-5, 5-6). 


36. The drying yard stayed in this location until tile expansion of the West Wing during 
the Franklin D. Roosevelt administration. Historic American Buildings Survey drawings of 
the White House from 1934 show the drying yard just before it was removed. (Information 
courtesy of Krause (ESF/WH1/NPS). 

37. Annual Report, Chief of Engineers, 1902, "Appendix DDD," 2727-28, 2731 . 

38. Symons occupied the position only about a year because of ill health. Seale, The 
President's House, 703-4. 

39 Annual Report, Chief of Engineers, 1903, "Appendix EEE," 2024-25. 

40. This is probably the first time when the president and the first lady became 
physically involved in the actual planting. Annual Report, Chief of Engineer, 1904 
photographs. 

41 . List of Commemorative Trees, OC/WH. 

42. Annual Report, Chief of Engineers, 1904. 


188 

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The Grounds of the White House 


In 1904 Bill Reeves replaced long-term White House gardener Henry 
Pfister and became chief gardener and foreman of the White House 
grounds. 43 The following year, in addition to routine maintenance, 
the roadways and the three fountain basins were repaired. In the 
colonial gardens the gravel walks were rolled and the plants were 
cared for. A total of 2,000 boxwood bushes were planted for 
edging. 44 Similar maintenance was reported in 1906-7, when two 
large Norway maples were placed on the south grounds. The 
macadam roadway at the north front was repaired with crushed 
stone, in the winter the bay trees in tubs on top of the east and west 
terraces were replaced by evergreen trees. 45 The report for 1908-9 
notes that an old maple tree on the north front of the White House 
had blown down. 46 

A week after President William Howard Taft was inaugurated on 
March 4, 1 909, Spencer Cosby replaced Bromwell as officer in charge 
of public buildings and grounds. Mrs. Taft took a particular interest 
in running the household and brought in a professional housekeeper. 
Except for garden parties and other entertaining, the Tafts did not 
seem to spend much time on the White House grounds. Mrs. Taft 
became the first president's wife to take on public projects, officially 
designated a drive in Potomac Park the "Speedway Potomac Drive" 
and selected a site there for a bandstand, which was used for twice- 
weekly Marine Band concerts. In 1911 she was instrumental in 
introducing Washington's famous Japanese cherry trees, a gift of the 
Japanese government, which were planted along Potomac Drive as a 
symbol of friendship between the United States and Japan. 47 

Another major project of the Taft administration was the expansion 
of the Executive Office Building (which became known as the West 
Wing). This involved relocating and redesigning the president's office 
into the first Oval Office. Nathan Wyeth won the competition for 
this project, but his drawings have not survived. 48 These changes 
necessitated the removal of Alice Roosevelt Longworth's tennis court. 
A new court was constructed in the southern part of the grounds, 


43. Stanley McClure files, ESF/WHL/NPS. In 1904-5 the usual maintenance took place 
and new drains and irrigation facilities were laid; Annual Report, Chief of Engineers, 1905, 
2626. 

44. Annual Report, Chief of Engineers, 1906, 21 16-18. 

45. Annual Report, Chief of Engineers, 1907, 2305; similar maintenance to the grounds of 
the White House was reported in 1 907-8; Annual Report, Chief of Engineers, 1 908, 238 1 . 

46. Annual Report, Chief of Engineers, 1909, 2334-35. 

47. Seale, The President's House, 748-50. 

48. Seale, The President's House, 756-60. 


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The Grounds of the White House 


used primarily by Helen Taft, daughter of President and Mrs. Taft 
(figure 5-7). 19 

On January 19, 1909, just before leaving the White House, President 
Theodore Roosevelt had created by executive order a Council of Fine 
Arts. President Taft revoked the order but introduced legislation to 
create a permanent body to advise on the location and design of 
buildings and monuments. The Commission of Fine Arts was 
established on May 1 7, 1910, "to advise upon the location of statues, 
fountains, and monuments in the public squares, streets, and parks 
in the District of Columbia, and upon the selection of . . . artists for 
the execution of same." Exempted from the commission's review 
were the Capitol and the Library of Congress. President Taft ap- 
pointed Daniel Burnham to chair the commission; the other six 
members were Frederick Law Olmsted Jr., Charles Moore, sculptor 
Daniel Chester French, painter Francis Millet, and architects Thomas 
Hastings and Cass Gilbert. (Charles Follen McKim had died in 1909.) 
On June 17, 1910, Taft appointed Spencer Cosby, the officer in 
charge of the public buildings and grounds, as secretary of the com- 
mission. Continuity with the goals of the McMillan plan was 
assured by the presence of Burnham, Olmsted, and Moore. 50 

In 1909-10 Cosby reported that the iron mesh fence behind the 
Executive Office Building (West Wing), which surrounded the 
removed tennis court and had been taken down during construction, 
was put back and planted with rambler roses. A total of 111 feet of 
hedge was installed south of the office building, and 1,430 feet of 
privet hedge was planted inside the iron mesh fence around the south 
end of the grounds. 51 In 1910-11 eight large evergreen trees were 
placed along the drive leading to the north entrance of the White 
House. The privet hedge inside the iron fence was extended north- 
ward on both sides, and 1 8 small spruce trees were planted south of 
the office building. Changes were also made to the two roadways 
south of the White House: the east road was given a better curve and 
the west road was cut across the lawn to match the east one. In May 
1911 the elm trees were sprayed with a solution of arsenate of lead 
to keep them from being defoliated by the elm-leaf beetle. 52 


49. Annual Report, Chief of Engineers, 1910, 2657; Seale, the President's House, 762. 

50. The commission's first major task was the establishment of the Lincoln Memorial; 
Sue A. Kohler, The Commission of Fine Arts: A Brief History, 1910-1976, With Additions, 1977- 
1980 (Washington, DC: The Commission of Fine Arts, 1983), 1-7; Reps, Monumental 
Washington, 153-4; Annual Report, Chief of Engineers, 1911, 2995. 

51. Annual Report, Chief of engineers, 1910, 2656-57. 

52. Annual Report, Chief of Engineers, 1911, 2964-65. 


190 

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The Grounds of the White House 


The next year the stable south of the present-day First Division 
Monument was torn down, The new privet hedge inside the south 
fence suffered severe die-back in the winter but was cut to the 
ground and rejuvenated vigorously; a new flower bed 4'/2 feet wide 
was put around the south fountain and planted with 500 German 
and Japanese iris. Eighteen Japanese cherry trees, a gift of the city of 
Tokyo, were also planted near the fountain. 53 During 1912-13 two 
large, damaged trees on the north grounds were removed. Boxwood 
bushes, evergreen trees, herbaceous phlox, and Japanese iris were 
planted. Large quantities of bulbs, Spanish iris, pansies, dianthus, 
and daisies were put in the colonial gardens, along with summer 
bedding plants. 54 

Shortly after Woodrow Wilson's inauguration as president March 4, 
1913, First Lady Ellen Axson Wilson, an artist and a garden designer, 
became deeply involved in plans for redoing the family quarters of 
the White House, which had been hardly altered since the remodeling 
in 1902. Nathan Wyeth prepared plans for the third floor. Minor 
changes were also made in the state rooms. Work was well 
underway by midsummer but took longer than expected to 
complete. On August 19, 1913, William W. Harts succeeded Spencer 
Cosby as officer in charge of buildings and grounds. 55 

Mrs. Wilson lost no time in making plans to redesign the two colo- 
nial gardens established during the Theodore Roosevelt adminis- 
tration. She perceived them as too busy for current taste and also 
wanted to provide a more dignified passage for her husband from 
home to office than by way of the basement. By early fall 1913 she 
was making preliminary sketches for the two gardens. She turned to 
Beatrix Farrand for assistance with the east garden. Farrand, who 
would become one of the most important American landscape archi- 
tects of the first half of the 20th century, had been in practice for 
about a dozen years in 1912. She produced a design that, in contrast 
to the busy parterres of Mrs. Roosevelt's southeast colonial garden, 
was quiet and restrained. It featured a small rectangular lily pool in 
the center of the space, edged with English ivy and with an Irish yew 
at each corner. Aound the borders were beds of tulips and other 
flowers in season, and rustic seats were tucked into secluded corners. 
Along the southern side of the garden was a low hedge. Figure 5-8 is 


53. Annual Report, Chief of Engineers, 1912, 3485-86. 

54. Annual Report, Chief of Engineers, 1913, 3207-78. 

55. Seale, The President's House, 767, 774—77; Frances Wright Saunders, First Lady Between 
7Vvo Worlds: Ellen Axson Wilson (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1985), 
249-60; Dryfhout, The Work of Augustus Saint-Gaudens, 278-79 


191 

Chapter 5. President's Park and the Influence of the McMillan Plan: 1 901-1 929 



The Grounds of the White House 


a perspective view of Farrand's east garden, and a photograph of the 
garden after construction is presented as figure 5-9. 56 

In laying out the west garden, Ellen Wilson was assisted by George 
Burnap, landscape architect for the Office of Public Buildings and 
Grounds. Incorporating suggestions made by Mrs. Wilson, Burnap 
prepared a series of plans for this garden that included a formal 
"President's Walk" flanked by trees running parallel to the west 
terrace and long planting beds. However, bids came in far too high 
for this garden, and Mrs. Wilson and the White House gardener, 
Charles Henlock, revised it into a simpler scheme, which they 
executed themselves. As redesigned, the President's Walk was 
outlined by hedges and arbors instead of trees, and a stone tribunal 
featured in the original plan was omitted. The west garden of the 
White House as realized is illustrated in figures 5-10 and 5-11. A 
figure of Pan at the west end of the garden was an original feature, 
but its origins do not seem to be documented. 57 

For fiscal year 1913-14 Harts reported routine maintenance to most 
of the grounds. A severe storm on July 30 destroyed 16 trees and 
damaged 25 others. Woodrow Wilson himself planted an American 
elm northeast of the north portico some time after the storm. (The 
tree is no longer extant, and either died or was removed between 
1977 and 1979.) 58 


56. Jane Brown, Beatrix: The Gardening Life of Beatrix Jones Farrand, 1872-1959 (New 
York: Viking, 1995), 102; NPS, "The President's Garden,” 55; Diana Balmori, "Campus 
Work and Public Landscapes," in Beatrix Farrand's American Landscapes: Her Gardens and 
Campuses (Sagaponack, New York: Sagapress, Inc., 1985), 128-9, 185; Seale, The President's 
House, 777-79. Drawings for Farrand's While House garden are in the National Archives 
and in the Farrand Collection, College of Environmental Design, University of California, 
Berkeley. At Princeton University Mrs. Wilson had planted a rose garden and a cedar- 
ringed circular pool; it was undoubtedly there that she met Farrand, who in 1912 had 
begun to design parts of the Princeton campus in collaboration with architect Ralph 
Adams Cram. Farrand designed the gardens at Dumbarton Oaks in Washington and the 
Rockefeller gardens in Seal Harbor, Maine. For general background on Farrand, see Eleanor 
M. McPeck, "A Biographical Note and a Consideration of Four Major Private Gardens,” in 
Beatrix Farrand’s American Landscapes, 12-61; and Jane Brown, "Lady into Landscape 
Gardener: Beatrix Farrand's Early Years at the Arnold Arboretum," Arnoldia 51, no. 3 (Fall 
19911,2-10. 

57. Seale, The President's House, 779; Saunders, First Lady, 267, After less than a year and 
a half in the White House, Mrs. Wilson became ill and died on August 6, 1914. President 
Wilson married Edith Galt on Dec. 18, 1915, Sec Seale, The President's House, 784-85, 788- 
89, 791-94. 

58. U.S. Grant to Marion Sowers, Dec. 26, 1928, cites the annual report for fiscal year 
1913-14; Lorenzo Winslow, "The Executive Mansion Grounds: Plan Showing the Tree 
Planting and the Commemorative Trees Together with the Roads, Walks and Mechanical 
Services," June 1, 1943 (ESF/WHL/NPS). 


192 

PAST I: THE EVOLUTION OF PRESIDENT'S PARK 



The Grounds of the White House 


Harts noted the changes that had been made to the gardens under the 
Farrand and Burnap plans, although he did not mention either 
designer by name. Water lilies were planted in the pool in the east 
garden. Walks were constructed in the west garden, sod was laid, 
and two large trees and 550 feet of hedge were planted. Routine 
maintenance to the White House grounds was reported for 1914-15. 
Plantings were numerous and the tennis court was resurfaced. 59 

The Marine Band concerts are not specifically referenced in the 
annual reports prior to 1904, but after this date concerts on the 
south lawn again became a regular event. They were moved briefly 
to the Ellipse during World War 1 (1917-18) for security considera- 
tions, but after the end of the conflict, they were again held on the 
south lawn. 60 Five years later documentation on these concerts ends. 
It is possible that with the inauguration of the Sylvan Theatre in 
1924, the venue was moved. 

In 1915-16 a new cement walk was constructed in the drying yard 
to replace an old wooden walk. The driveways north of the White 
House were given a coating of limestone chips and glutrin (probably 
a binding agent), then rolled with a steam roller, and the four lamps 
at the north entrance were repaired. In the fall thousands of spring 
flowering bulbs and pansies were planted in the east and west 
gardens. Iron water pipes were also installed to water the lawns and 
flower beds. 61 In 1916-17 Harts reported maintenance to the 
fountain south of the house and additional water pipes. The 
macadam and asphalt roadways were repaired, and four new arc 
electric lights were installed on the south grounds. 61 

During the time of U.S. involvement in World War I, strict wartime 
measures were observed at the White House. To demonstrate that 
every possible resource should be used to promote the war effort, the 
Wilsons kept a flock of about 1 8 sheep to graze on the lawn, making 
the wool available for auction in each state, donating the money to 
the Red Cross and saving the cost of mowing the south lawn. The 


59. A nnual Report, Chief of Engineers, 1915, 1661, 3710. 

60. In 1914 Harts reported that the concerts had been moved from the Ellipse to the 
White House grounds. Annual Report, Chief of Engineers, 1914, 3342. Harts was new to 
this job and it is quite possible that he was not aware of the location of the concerts. His 
report contradicts previous ones that dearly indicated that Marine Band concerts 
continued to be held on the south lawn every Saturday from June through September. 
Annual Report, Chief of Engineers, 1909, 2358; ibid., 1910, 2669-70; ibid., 1911, 3500; 
ibid,, 1913, 3223; ibid., 1914, 3354; ibid., 1919, 2049-50; ibid., 1920, 2194. 

61 . Annual Report, Chief of Engineers, 1 916, 35 79-80. 

62. Annual Report, Chief of Engineers, 191 7, 3699-3700. 


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Chapter 5. President's Park and the Influence of the McMillan Plan: 1 901-1 929 



The Grounds of the White House 


sheep were a picturesque sight on the White House lawn (figure 5- 
12), but the gardener, Charles Henlock, complained they were a 
nuisance. A small shed and water troughs were built on the grounds 
for the sheep. 63 

On September 25, 1917, Clarence S. Ridley took over as officer in 
charge of buildings and grounds. That year Ridley reported that 11 
trees were given surgical treatment, 5 trees were chained, and 2 dead 
ones were removed. Evergreen trees were planted around the east 
fountain for winter effect and taken out in the spring. The east and 
west gardens (still referred to as the colonial gardens) received the 
usual maintenance. Irises that had been planted around the north 
fountain were transplanted to the south fountain. South of the 
White House 14 old electric arc lights were replaced with 
incandescent lights. 64 

In addition to routine maintenance to the White House grounds in 
1918-19, some of the drives were resurfaced. The water pipes of the 
south fountain were repaired and a new circular spray installed. In 
the colonial gardens pansies, chrysanthemums, bulbs, and summer 
bedding plants were planted. 65 

In May 1919 a reception was held on the south lawn for 
convalescent veterans of World War I. This type of event was 
temporarily stopped after the Bonus March, but it was resumed 
briefly during the Truman presidency after World War II. 66 

In 1919-20 the two gates on Pennsylvania Avenue were cleaned, 
sanded, and painted, the statue of Pan in the west garden was cleaned 
and painted, and roads and walks were repaired. Flowering bulbs, 
herbaceous plants, and pansies were planted in the colonial gardens. 67 
In 1920-21 a drainage pipe was laid in back of the stone base of the 
fence along Pennsylvania Avenue. 66 

On March 4, 1921, President Warren G. Harding was inaugurated. 
There is no evidence that the Hardings had any great interest in the 
grounds, but garden parties were quite common, with Mrs. Harding 


63. Seale, The President’s House, 810-27. A drawing for Ihe sheep cote is at the National 
Archives. (Information courtesy of ESF/WHL/NPS). 

64. Annual Report, Chief of Engineers, 1918, 3777. 

65. Annual Report, Chief of Engineers, 1919, 3819-20. 

66. David McCullough, Truman (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1 992), 497-98. 

67. Annual Report, Chief of Engineers, 1 920, 4110. 

68 Annual Report, Chief of Engineers, 1921, 2055. 


194 


PART I: THE EVOLUTION OP PRESIDENT’S PARK 



greeting many people on the grounds. Harding seems to have begun 
the custom of posing for photographs and greeting official groups of 
visitors near the west garden. 69 

Under Harding's administration Clarence O. Sherrill became the 
officer in charge of buildings and grounds. In 1922 Harding replaced 
the fern-leaf beeches that Theodore Roosevelt and his wife had 
planted near the east entrance of the White House in 1904. These 
trees were removed in 1942 when the East Wing was rebuilt. 70 
President and Mrs. Harding planted two southern magnolias on the 
east entrance to the White House. The north tree, planted by Mrs. 
Harding, was replaced in 1947 and is credited to President Harding. 
The south tree, planted by President Harding, was replaced in 1942 
by President Franklin D. Roosevelt and since then has been 
Roosevelt's commemorative tree. 71 

Calvin Coolidge became president after Harding's sudden death on 
August 2, 1923. No major changes appear to have been made to the 
White House grounds during Coolidge's administration; the 
emphasis was again on the house itself. 71 

During this period a variety of light fixture styles can be seen around 
President's Park. Some of the old lanterns similar in design to those 
from the 1840s shared streets with arc lights. In the first decade of 
the 20th century round white globes were extremely common, but a 
decade later they began to be replaced with two of the most widely 
used streetlights in Washington, which were named after the 
members of the Commission of Fine Arts who participated in their 
design. The Millet lamppost, a single lamp standard (also called the 
Washington Globe) was first installed in 1912; the Bacon double 
lamppost in 192 3. 73 

For 1923-24 Sherrill noted that several roadways on the grounds 
had been repaired and that the gateposts on Pennsylvania Avenue 


69. Seale, The President’s House, 836-5 1 . 

70. According to the Olmsted report, the trees that Harding planted were European 
hornbeams; the annual report indicated that they were beeches. 

71. Harding also brought in an 82-year-old gardener, Charles Lee Patten. NPS, "The 
President's Garden," 57. In 1922 Sherrill reported only routine care to the White House 
grounds and the spraying of trees to prevent defoliation by insects, Annual Report, Chief of 
Engineers, 1922, 2182. 

72. Seale, The President’s House, 850-55. 

73. Kohler, The Commission of Fine Arts, 37-38. For illustrations of the continued use of 
these light standards, see chapter 6, figure 6-10, and chapter 9, figures 9-5 and 9-6. 


The Grounds of the White House 


195 

Chapter 5. President's Park and the Influence of the McMillan Plan: 1 901-1 929 



The Grounds of the White House 


had been painted . ™ On May 10, 1924, Mrs. Coolidge planted a white 
birch tree, which had been presented by the District of Columbia 
Federation of Women's Clubs in honor of the mothers of presidents. 
President Coolidge spoke at the ceremony. The birch was planted on 
the lower part of the southeast lawn, but it has not survived. 75 

The following year Sherrill reported the usual care to the White 
House lawns, roads, walks, and gutters. In addition, the iron mesh 
fence at the rear of the mansion, extending from the Executive Office 
Building (West Wing) to the east terrace, was cleaned and painted. A 
lattice fence was also erected around the clothes-drying yard, and a 
new mesh wire fence was built at the basement entrance to the 
mansion. 76 

In December 1925 Major Ulysses S. Grant III, the grandson of 
President Grant, became director of the Office of Public Buildings and 
Public Parks of the National Capital. From this period onward the 
annual reports did not identify work on individual sites and included 
fewer photographs and plans that were replaced with graphs and 
tables. 77 However, an article published in The National Spectator on 
April 3, 1926, describes a "solitary apple tree," apparently ancient, as 
well as "many maples, oaks, acacia, tulip poplar, ash, cypress, 
magnolia, elm, buckeye, yew, Japanese flowering cherry, pine, cedar 
of Lebanon, basswood, Japanese varnish and boxwood trees." In the 
west garden there were 25 varieties of roses, while in the east "old- 
fashioned" garden were phlox, peonies, chrysanthemums, holly- 
hocks, black-eyed susans, forget-me-nots, snapdragons, and pansies. 
Bulbs such as narcissus, tulips, hyacinths, and German and Japanese 
iris were also described. 78 Some of the perennials were not typical of 
Farrand's plantings and may represent a deviation from her plan. 


74. Annual Report, Chief of Engineers, 1 924, 2018-19. 

75. NPS, Administrative History, 354 cites "White House Trees," Dec. 2, 1952, at the 
Harry S. Truman library. 

76. Annual Report, Chief of Engineers, 1925, 1937. 

77. The annual report for tiie following year had a new format, reflecting a newly 
organized department. Under the new Office of Public Buildings and Public Parks of the 
National Capital, there were seven divisions: Administrative, Buildings Maintenance, 
Design and Construction, Horticultural, Park Maintenance, Protection, and Transporta- 
tion and Supply. Although the Executive Mansion still had its own section of the report, 
only work on the building was described. Annual Report, Director of Public Buildings and 
Public Parks of the National Capital, 1926, 7, 21, 23-26. 

78. "Strange Features at the White House," The Natrona! Spectator, Apr. 3, 1926, 39-40, 
Stanley McClure files, ESF/WHL/NPS. 


196 

Part I: The Evolution of President's Park 



The Grounds of the White House 


In the White House the family quarters were redone. In the course of 
the Coolidge remodeling serious structural problems were discovered 
that had been patched up but not resolved in previous remodeling. As 
a result, the entire attic had to be rebuilt, making it necessary for the 
Coolidges to move to a house on Dupont Circle for almost six 
months in 1927. It was through Grant's efforts that funding was 
secured to renovate the White House. 79 

While repairs to the roof and third floor of the White House were 
reported for 1926-27, no information was provided about work on 
the grounds. Despite the construction, the grounds were opened on 
Easter Monday for egg rolling, which was attended by more than 
30,000 people. Between 9 A.M. and 3:30 P.M. only children under 10 
with accompanying adults were let in. From 3:30 to 5 P.M. the 
general public was admitted, and the Marine Band performed. 80 

In 1927-28 the work on the White House roof was completed. In 
May 1928 the iron gates on West Executive Avenue between the 
White House and the grounds of the State, War, and Navy Building 
were removed and presented to the Ohio State Archaeological and 
Historical Society to be used as memorial gateways into Spiegel 
Grove State Park in Fremont, Ohio. It was reported that egg rolling 
again took place on Easter Monday, with about the same number of 
people as in the previous year. Trees in all the parks were treated 
with arsenate of lead to exterminate the elm-leaf beetle and 
caterpillars. The same treatment was used on boxwood plants 
against the box-leaf miner. 81 

On January 24, 1928, Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. not only recom- 
mended changes in planting, but referred to work carried out the 
previous year, presumably at his recommendation. Apparently 
Olmsted was asked only to advise in an informal way on the 
improvement of the south vista. 82 


79. Seale, The President's House, 863-77. The repairs done in 1927 led to severe structural 
problems in the attic, which necessitated the major reconstruction of the building during 
the Truman administration. 

80. Annual Report, Director of Public Buildings and Public Parks, 1927, 30-32, 38. 

81. Annual Report, Director of Public Buildings and Public Parks, 1928, 20-21, 23-24, 30- 
31. For the Horticultural Division, the only relevant item was that cut flowers were 
regularly furnished to the Executive Mansion. 

82. Olmsted to Grant, Jan. 24, 1928, Library of Congress, Olmsted Associates Papers, 15- 
files, job 2843, Fine Arts Commission, "EX.” Unless otherwise indicated, all of the Olmsted 
Brothers' correspondence, reports of visits, and reports of conferences cited in this chapter 
are from this repository, collection, file, and job name and number; it will be cited hereafter 
as "Olmsted Associates Papers." Copies of some of the Olmsted correspondence, including an 
extract from the letter of Jan. 24, 1928, are also in RG 66, NA. 


197 

Chapter 5. President's Park and the Influence of the McMillan Plan: 1901-1929 



The Grounds of the White House 


Olmsted apparently had been asked to examine the plantings on the 
sides of the south vista, which landscape architect Irving Paine had 
wanted to thin considerably. While not in favor of a wholesale 
removal of plants, Olmsted suggested moving a large Irish yew, 
which was directly on the axis south of the south pool. Olmsted told 
Grant that he hoped that no one had been "seriously shocked" by the 
cutting back of the hedge around the south side of the grounds, even 
though it looked "unpleasantly denuded." 83 

In carrying out the request for landscape assistance, Olmsted 
examined the general condition of the White House grounds. 84 He 
remarked that 

while the general effect is distinctly "respectable" . . . and 
while the general plan, as regards the form of the ground 
and the disposition of the tree-masses and means of 
communication and their relation to the building and to the 
exterior surroundings is emphatically good, it would be fair 
to say that almost anyone of cultivated taste and a fairly 
broad and appreciative acquaintance with fine examples of 
the landscape surroundings of great mansions, both private 
and official, in this country and elsewhere, would have to 
rate the White House Grounds as distinctly disappointing ." 5 

Olmsted objected to the lack of residential character in the grounds 
and believed that there was little that distinguished the White House 
landscape from the grounds of a public institution or that indicated 
that a family lived there. However, he believed that there was ample 
opportunity to develop parts of the grounds for domestic uses. For 
example, considerable space existed on both sides of the south vista 
for secluded spaces that could be allocated for the personal and social 
needs of the first family. 86 

The last three paragraphs of Olmsted's 1928 letter are particularly 
important. Referring to McKim's renovation of the White House in 
1902-3 and its failure to address the grounds, he wrote, 

[McKim] was in principle completely sympathetic with my 
views. But the impulse toward betterment at that time, 
stimulated as it was largely by the outrageously bad func- 
tional and artistic condition of the interior of the building, 
spent itself almost entirely in accomplishing the admirable 


83. Olmsted to Grant, Jan. 24, 1928, Olmsted Associates Papers. The privet hedge had 
been cut back to the ground in 191 1-12 

84. Olmsted to Grant, Jan. 24, 1928, 2. 

85. Olmsted to Grant, Jan. 24, 1928, 2. 

86. Olmsted to Grant, Jan. 24, 1928, 3. 


198 

Part I: The Evolution of President's Park 



The Grounds of the White House 


architectural improvement of the building and its immedi- 
ate surroundings and did not have the energy to grapple 
broadly and completely with the problem of the grounds as 
a whole. 

I wonder whether the time is not approaching to undertake 
this courageously and broadly — with the utmost respect 
for what is good in the old design, but with an appreciation 
that in detail the White House Grounds have never ap- 
proached the standards attained by the more distinguished 
examples of the grounds of private and official residences in 
the rest of the world or of private residences in the United 
States. . . . 

The White House Grounds ought to be such that an organi- 
zation like the Garden Club of America would proudly and 
unhesitatingly point them out to its members or to foreign 
visitors of kindred interests as among the best hundred 
examples of residential grounds in America ." 7 

A copy of Olmsted's letter to Grant was sent to Charles Moore, who 
replied that he agreed "thoroughly and cordially." He was uncertain, 
however, how much could be done until there was an adequate plan 
and someone "in that enclosure" who could give the matter serious 
attention. 88 Moore made copies of Olmsted's "confidential report" 
available first to First Lady Grace Coolidge and then to First Lady Lou 
Hoover, but did not request active consideration from either. 89 
Frederic A. Delano, chairman of the National Capital Planning 
Commission and Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s uncle, also wrote to 
Olmsted, saying that the letter had impressed him very favorably. 90 

In 1928-29 bituminous paving in front of the Executive Office 
Building (West Wing) was replaced by a larger area of concrete so 
that automobiles could turn without backing. The west wall of the 
west terrace was found to be in bad structural condition and was 
reconstructed. The fence around the grounds was repainted, and the 
bottom of the fountain north of the White House was completely 


87. Olmsted to Grant, Jan. 24, 1928, 4. The last few paragraphs of the letter include 
some cross-outs and corrections, presumably by Olmsted, and these have been incorporated 
into the quotation. 

88. Moore to Olmsted, Feb. 1 7, 1 928, Olmsted Associates Papers. 

89. Commission of Fine Arts (hereafter abbreviated as CFA), minutes of meeting, Oct. 
19, 1934, project files, box 206, RG 66, NA. This entry includes the full text of Charles 
Moore's report on an inspection of the White House grounds on Oct. 9, 1934, as well as 
a full history of the early stages of the project. 

90. Frederic A. Delano to Olmsted, Feb. 18,1 928, Olmsted Associates Papers. 


199 

Chapter 5. President’s Park and the Influence of the McMillan Plan: 1 901-1 929 



Lafayette Square 


200 

Part I: The Evolution of President's Park 


reconstructed. 91 A March 1929 article describes white phlox planted 
in a surprising location: a bed on the front (presumably north) lawn 
near the fence enclosing the grounds. 92 

Photographs show topiaries on both the east and west terraces by 
the 1 920s, although when they were installed is not known. 93 


Lafayette Square 

The statue of the Comte de Rochambeau by sculptor Fernand Hamar 
was unveiled in the southwest corner of Lafayette Square on May 
24, 1 902. 99 That same year the gun carriages around the Jackson 
statue were replaced, the watchman's lodge was repainted, bare 
places on the lawns were resodded, and the walks were repaired. 
Privet hedges were planted near the watchman's lodge. 95 In 1902-3 
the iron railing around the Jackson statue was repainted. 9 * Repairs 
were made to the lodge in 1903-4, and the sod was treated and 
manured. 97 In 1904-5 water service was extended to the southeast 
part of the park, and a plan listed all trees and shrubs (see figure 5- 
13). Two photographs, perhaps taken by members of the Olmsted 
firm, survive from this period. Figure 5-14 shows the section of park 
closest to Pennsylvania Avenue looking east toward the Lafayette 
statue. The Rochambeau statue does not appear, but the photog- 
rapher may have been standing beside it. 98 


91. Annual Report, Director of Public Buildings and Public Parks, 1 929, 24, 28. In connection 
with repainting the fence, the report refers to “the fence surrounding the grounds" but does 
not specify a particular part of it (24). For the Horticultural Division, nothing is itemized 
except for the provision of flowers to the Executive Mansion. 

92. Robert Sparks Walker, "When You Visit the While House,” Flower Grower (March 
1929), Stanley McClure files, E5F/WHL/NPS. 

93. Information courtesy of Krause (ESF/NPS/WHL), June 15, 2000. 

94. Annual Report, Chief of Engineers, 1902, 2741, 2564-65; Goode, The Outdoor Sculpture, 
379. 

95. Annual Report, Chief of Engineers, 7 902, 2732. 

96. Annual Report, Chief of Engineers, 1 903, 2566. 

97. Annual Report, Chief of Engineers, 1904. 

98. Annual Report, Chief of Engineers, 1905, 2638. It is unclear why these photographs 
were taken, since the Olmsted firm did not prepare plans for Lafayette Park. At the 
Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site, these two photographs are filed under job no. 
2829, Lafayette Square, but there are no plans. Also, no correspondence is listed under the 
job number in the B-Files of the Olmsted Associates Papers, Library of Congress, 
Manuscripts Division. Neither photograph is dated, but the one in figure 5-15 has a 
notation: "Original sent to Archibald A. Hill, 11 June 119106." 



Lafayette Square 


For Theodore Roosevelt's 1905 inaugural ceremonies a Court of 
History was set up in Lafayette Park, consisting of portrait statues, 
symbolic female figures, and large vases presented by the executive 
committee of the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis. 
After the inauguration the sculptures were moved to the Ellipse. 94 

Numerous repairs on the lodge were made in 1905-6, and painting 
was done on the iron fence around the Jackson statue and elsewhere 
in the park. There were now 116 settees in the park. In 1905 a 
competition was held for a statue of Major General Frederick 
Wilhelm von Steuben to be erected in the northwest corner. A joint 
resolution of Congress in 1904 accepted the offer of the Polish- 
American organizations to present a statue of Brigadier General 
Kosciuszko, which would be erected in the northeast corner. 100 In 
1906-7 the gravel and asphalt walks were repaired, and new terra- 
cotta drainpipe was laid to drain one of the walks. 101 For 1907-8 
repairs to worn places in the gravel walks were reported, and the 
models for both the von Steuben and Kosciuszko statues were 
approved. 102 Repairs to the lodge were reported in 1908-9, 103 

In 1909—10 the lodge and the brick gutters were repaired, and the 
water service extended. On May 11, 1910, the Kosciuszko statue, by 
Antonio Popiel, was unveiled at the northeast corner. In June 1910 
the full size model of one of the two bronze side groups of the von 
Steuben monument was approved. 104 The only maintenance reported 
in 1910-11 was the repair of worn places in the asphalt walks. At 
this time there were six electric arc lights in the park. The von 
Steuben statue, by Albert Jaegers, was unveiled at the northwest 
corner of the park on December 7, 1910. 105 In 1911-12 asphalt 
walkways were repaired, and the trees received professional care, 
with decayed cavities cleaned and filled with cement. In August 1911 
and again in June 1912 the elm trees in most of the Washington 


99. Annual Report, Chief of Engineers, 1 905, 2638, 2653-5; Goode, The Outdoor Sculpture, 
131-2. 

100. Annual Report, Chief of Engineers, 1906, 2129, 2145. At about this time the practice of 
summarizing maintenance for all the improved parks in one section of the annual report 
was begun. Only construction and new plantings would be reported for individual parks. 

101. Annual Report, Chief of Engineers, 1907, 2321, 2340. 

102. Annual Report, Chief of Engineers, 1908, 2391, 2412. 

103. Annual Report, Chief of Engineers, 1909, 2342, 2362-63, 2366-67. 

104. Annual Report, Chief of Engineers, 1910, 2660, 2683, 2684; Goode, The Outdoor 
Sculpture, 374-75. 

105. Annual Report, Chief of Engineers, 1911, 2968, 2990-1; Goode, The Outdoor Sculpture, 
382. 


201 

Chapter 5. President's Park and the Influence of the McMillan Plan : 1901-1929 



Lafayette Square 


parks were sprayed with a solution of arsenate of lead to prevent 
defoliation by the elm-leaf beetle and the caterpillar. 106 In 1912-13 
the asphalt walks were again repaired and a new drinking fountain 
and a children's sandbox were installed. 107 

In 1913-14 a new lodge was built on the same site as the old one 
(figure 5-15). The following year a new cement walk was laid out 
leading to the new lodge, and the old gravel walks were resurfaced. 
In 1915-16 new coping was built around the top of the lodge, which 
was painted. Two evergreen trees were planted, and 938 square 
yards of sod were laid. Two shrubbery beds were redesigned in 
1916-17. In 1917-18 only the painting of the lodge was reported. 
Three deciduous shrubs were planted in 1918-19, and a clogged pipe 
attached to the drinking fountain was repaired. 106 

In 1914 Olmsted indicated that he opposed the location of the 
Jackson statue. He argued that it should be turned around to face 
16th Street. Others agreed with this assessment, but nothing hap- 
pened as a result. In 1917 a proposal was made to relocate the 
Jackson statue to the north of the Treasury Building. The Com- 
mission of Fine Arts opposed the move, indicating that relocating the 
statue so near the building would detract from both. In 1923 a 
suggestion was made to exchange the Jackson statue with the 
Washington statue at Washington Circle when the latter was 
returned from being repaired. It was argued that this would reunite 
Washington with the generals he commanded during the American 
Revolution. However, strong opposition from Tennesseans prevented 
the switch. 509 

On November 11, 1919, the first anniversary of Armistice Day, two 
California redwood trees were planted in Lafayette Park with 
"appropriate ceremonies." The redwoods were located at the eastern 
and western sides of the park near the location of the present pools. 
During 1919-20 repairs were made to the lodge and walks. Three 
dead trees were removed, and one deciduous tree was planted. Two 
evergreen and 14 deciduous shrubs were planted, and 7 evergreen 
shrubs were put in to replace others that had died. 110 


106. Annual Report , Chief of Engineers, 1912, 3489-90. 

107. Annual Report, Chief of Engineers, 1913, 3210, 3212. 

108. Annual Report, Chief of Engineers, 1914, 3356; ibid., 1915, 3713; ibid., 1916, 3582; 
ibid., 191 7, 3702; ibid., 1918, 3779. 

109. Kerr, "Statue of General Andrew Jackson, " 47-49. 

1 10. Annual Report, Chirf of Engineers, 1920, 4114. 


202 


PART I: THE EVOLUTION OF PRESIDENT'S PARK 



Lafayette Square 


During this period major buildings were constructed around 
Lafayette Square. In 1917 Cass Gilbert designed the Treasury Annex 
on the east side of the square at the corner of Madison Place and 
Pennsylvania Avenue. He assumed that eventually the building 
would be extended along the entire length of Madison Place north to 
H Street and that structures of similar character would be erected on 
the other sides bordering the square, an assumption that continued 
at least until 1933. 111 Some of the proposals for modifying the park 
might reflect the intent of the McMillan plan and the ideas of 
influential designers, such as Cass Gilbert. 

Gilbert also designed the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Building on H 
Street. It is a four-story limestone Beaux Arts classical revival 
building completed in 1925. While the colonnaded corner building 
has been altered over the years, its appearance from the street is 
virtually unchanged. 112 

In 1927 the Hay -Adams house, the well-known masterpiece of 
Henry Hobson Richardson that was constructed in 1884-86, was 
demolished to make room for a hotel. Named in honor of John Hay 
and Henry Adams and financed by Harry Wardman, the hotel was 
designed by Mihran Mesrobian. It is eight stories high, faced in 
limestone, and decorated with classical details. 1 ’ 3 

In The American Vitruvius, Elbert Peets published an analysis of 
Washington based on his studies in the city during World War I. He 
wrote, 

Lafayette Square is of such obvious beauty and value as an 
open square. Real "squares" are rare in Washington. There 
are plenty of so called "circles" and other open areas of 
various shapes at street intersections, but Lafayette is in 
quite another class. It is a court of honor before the White 
House, fortunate in its ample size and symmetrical plan, its 
freedom from bisecting pavements, its dignified houses 
reminiscent of the old time capital, and the relative 
continuity of its bounding wall, for an area loses half the 
value of being open if wide avenues lead out from every 
side. 114 


lit. Kohler. The Commission of Fine Arts, 80. 

112. Scott and Lee, Buildings of the District of Columbia, 1 63. 

113. Jeanne Fogle, Proximity to Power: Neighbors to the Presidents near Lafayette Square 
{Washington, DC: A Tour de Force Publication, 1999), 208-10. 

114. Hegemann and Peets, The American Vitruvius, 292. 


203 

Chapter 5. President's Park and the Influence of the McMillan Plan: 2 901-1929 



President's Park South Peets then went on to warn against the radical transformation of the 

square that would result if the office buildings recommended by the 
Senate Park Commission were constructed.' 15 

Limited activity was reported for Lafayette Square between 1920 and 
1928. 1,6 Memorial trees were planted not only in the White House 
grounds but also in Lafayette Square, as in the case of the red oak 
planted there on April 25, 1929, by the Ladies' Association, in honor 
of Mrs. Grace Coolidge." 7 During this period the "park's moral 
character after hours drew criticism." To address this problem old 
trees were thinned and more electric lights were installed. A daytime 
guard was stationed at the watchman's lodge. 118 However, a 1927 
plan for the walks in the south half may indicate that the simpli- 
fication of the park had been contemplated then, although it was not 
carried out for almost 10 years. 119 The 1929 report noted that brief 
ceremonies were held and wreaths placed at the Rochambeau statue 
on July 1, 1928, the von Steuben statue on November 15, 1928, the 
Jackson statue on January 8, 1929, and the Kosciuszko statue on 
February 12, 1929. 120 


President's Park South 

During this period a number of commemorative statues and memo- 
rials were installed in President's Park South. In 1902-3 the statue of 
General Sherman was completed under the supervision of Sara Rohl- 
Smith, the wife of Carl Rohl-Smith. 121 Coping for the Sherman statue 


115. Hegemann and Peets, The American Vitruvius, 293. 

116. In the annual reports for 1920-21, 1921-22, 1923-24, 1925-26, 1926-27, and 
1927-28 there are no sections dealing with Lafayette Square. The only action reported for 
1924-25 is the sowing of grass seed. Annual Report, Chief of Engineers, 1 925. 

117. Annual Report, Director of Public Buildings and Public Parks, 3 929, 42, 43. 

118. Seale, "The Design of Lafayette Park," 1 8. 

119. Office of Public Buildings and Public Parks of the National Capital, "Lafayette Park, 
Walks — South Half, Location and Grades," Sept. 12, 1927, plan 28-20, no source 
identified. 

120. As in some of the previous reports, a complete listing of all the statues, monuments 
and memorials in the public grounds of Washington was included; Annual Report, Director 
of Public Buildings and Public Parks, 1 929, 43, 52-57. 

121. Annual Report, Chief of Engineers, 1 903, 2563 . Carl Rohl-Smith died in 1 900. Sara was 
assisted by Laurilz Jensen, Sigvald Asbjornsen, Stephen Sinding, and Mrs. Theodore Alice 
Ruggles Kitson. The statue was dedicated on October 15, 1903. Funding began in 1892 with 
a $30,000 appropriation from Congress; the Army of the Tennessee contributed $11,000. 
Preparing the subfoundation, mosaic, granite curbing and grounds improvement amounted 
to $40,055 as of 1952. Recent lighting, sidewalks, landscaping, curbing and other work 


204 


PART I: THE EVOLUTION OF PRESIDENT'S PARK 



President's Park South 


was completed during fiscal year 1901-2. Landscape maintenance, 
which was listed under President's Park, consisted primarily of new 
bridle paths and granolithic pavements. 122 In 1903-4 it was again 
recommended that a footway be constructed around the inner side of 
the Ellipse. Thirty settees were installed on the eastern side of the 
park. In April 1904 the Ellipse was opened up for baseball; nine 
diamonds were laid out, but only three were in use at any one time. 
In that year the Sherman statue was finally installed; its surround- 
ings were designated "Sherman Plaza," and landscaping was begun. 
A plan in the annual report shows a "Street South of the Treasury 
Department" in the present location of the E Street extension. 1 " 

Parts of the lawns damaged by ball playing were restored in 1904-5, 
and roads were repaired. At the northeast corner a bed was planted 
with tropical plants. Some of the portrait statues, symbolic female 
figures, and large vases associated with President Roosevelt's 1905 
inaugural ceremonies were moved to the Ellipse. Among the sym- 
bolic female figures were two representing "Victory" and one each 
representing the "Genius of Architecture” and the "Genius of Music." 
The Victory figures, sculpted by Michael Tonnetti, were placed at the 
south entrance to the Ellipse, presumably at Constitution Avenue, 
and probably at the location of the present Haupt fountains. The 
location of the other two figures is not known, and none of them is 
now on the grounds. By 1905 the grounds around the Sherman 
statue were fully landscaped (figure 5- 16). 124 

During fiscal year 1905-6 a cement walkway six feet wide was con- 
structed around the edge of the Ellipse, and much of the sod near the 
walkway had to be relaid. A total of 92 trees on the east and south 
sides were removed because the plantings were overcrowded. 125 The 
resurfacing of the roadway was completed in 1907-8, and the as- 
phalt paving on West Executive Avenue was repaired. On Easter 
Monday the Marine Band gave a concert for children on the north 
side. 126 In 1908-9 the surface of the main roadway on the north side 
was recoated. Post and wire fence was installed on the west side of 


was completed as of 1993. See also, Maggie Coffin "Historical Landscape Assessment: First 
Division Monument and Sherman Plaza, President's Park, Washington, D C." (Olmsted 
Center for Landscape Preservation, NPS, 1 996). 

122 Annual Report, Chief of Engineers, 1902, 2715, 2732. 

123. Annual Report, Chief of Engineers, 1904, 3926, 3948. 

124. Annual Report, Chief of Engineers, 1905, 2638, 2653-5; Goode, The Outdoor Sculpture, 
131-32. 

125. Annual Report, Chief of Engineers, 1907, 2321-22. 

126. Annual Report, Chief' of Engineers, 1908, 2392. 


205 

Chapter 5. President’s Park and the Influence, of the McMillan Plan: 1901-1929 



President's Park South 


the park to prevent trespassing on the grass. The old bridle path was 
cleaned and a new branch added. Repairs also continued on the as- 
phalt surface of West Executive Avenue. Minor repairs were made to 
the coping at Sherman Plaza. For the inauguration of President Taft, 
a fireworks display was held on the Ellipse. 127 

At this time important structures were erected on the west side of 
the Ellipse. The first major one, constructed between 1908 and 1910, 
was the Organization of American States building. Albert Kelsey and 
Paul Philippe Cret were the designers of one of the most exotic build- 
ings in Washington. The triple-arched entrance of the principal fa- 
cade on 17th Street forms an arcade flanked by huge pylons and 
two-story pavilions. One of two sculptural groups illustrates North 
America with a female figure and child. A similar group symbolizes 
South America. Above each statue, bas-relief panels illustrate, respec- 
tively, George Washington, Sim6n Bolivar, and Jose de San Martin. 
At the cornice lines of the pylons are an eagle as a symbol of 
America, and a condor as a symbol of the Andes. Mayan motifs line 
the base of the pilasters and the top of the parapet and adorn two 
copper lamps at the entrance. A red tile roof and a classical balus- 
trade crown the building. 128 

In 1910 the Daughters of the American Revolution Memorial 
Continental Hall was constructed. The white marble building was 
conceived as a monument to the founders of the republic, as an in- 
spiration for patriotic sentiment, and as headquarters for the organ- 
ization. No single design was originally accepted. Instead Edward 
Pearce Casey presented an amalgamated plan that called for a 2,000- 
seat auditorium, a library, and a memorial room. 129 

Five years later the national headquarters building for the American 
Red Cross was constructed. Designed by Alexander B. Trowbridge 
and Goodhue Livingston, this building is a memorial to Civil War 
women. It attempts at symbolic reconciliation by recognizing the 
sacrifices of both the North and the South. The white marble 
Classical Revival building sits well away from the street and is char- 
acterized by gentle terraces and a long circular drive. A central 
projecting portico of four Corinthian columns rises two stories and 
supports a triangular pediment. Four identical engaged columns are 


127. Annual Report, Chief of Engineers, 1909, 2342, 2361. 

128. Scot! and Lee, Buildings of the District of Columbia, 209-10. 

129. Scott and Lee, Buildings of the District of Columbia, 208-9. 


206 

Part 1: The Evolution of President's Park 



President’s Park South 


placed on each side of the building. The third story is set behind a 
balustrade that encircles it. 130 

The only work reported on the Ellipse in 1909-10 was the repair of 
roads. More than 25,000 square yards of macadam roadway were 
cleaned of dust and horse droppings and surfaced with an asphaltic 
oil. The roads leading from the main roadway to the northeast and 
southwest corners of the grounds were covered with broken stone 
and rolled. In 1910-11 the macadam roadways were again repaired, 
as were the bridle paths. Six new wooden bridges were made to carry 
the bridle path across the gutters. The Marine Band gave concerts 
here every Saturday in the summer and on Easter Monday, using 
portable bandstands. More repairs were reported to the roadways in 
1911-12, and to the asphalt roadway on West Executive Avenue. 
The executive mansion stables to the south of the State, War, and 
Navy Building were removed in 1911. In 1912-13 a large shrubbery 
bed was laid out south of the State, War, and Navy Building and 
planted with 110 shrubs to block out "trespass paths" in this area. 13 ' 

After Maj. Archie Butt and Francis Davis Millet died aboard the 
Titanic in 1912, friends established a fountain in their memory. 
Created by noted American sculptor Daniel Chester French and archi- 
tect Thomas Hastings, the fountain was installed in 1913 on the 
Ellipse just east of the recently removed presidential stables. A public 
resolution by Congress, approved August 24, 1912, placed the mon- 
ument on the grounds at no expense to the government. No 
dedication ceremony was held. 132 

In 1913-14 roadways were again repaired, and improvements were 
made in the area around Sherman Plaza. In 1914-15 seven large 
evergreen trees were planted around the Butt-Millet memorial foun- 
tain. The mosaic floor around the Sherman statue was repaired in 
1914-15. The joints in the pedestal and steps were cleaned and re- 
pointed. Twelve old trees were removed in 1916-17, and 122 decid- 
uous trees and 158 deciduous shrubs were planted. Waterlines were 
laid to water the trees and shrubbery, and roadways were repaired. 133 
On August 2, 1916, a plan was prepared to develop the portion of 


130. Scott and Lee, Buildings of the District of Columbia, 207-8; Fogle, Proximity to Power, 
159. 

131. Annual Report, Chief of Engineers, 1910, 2660; ibid., 1911, 2968, 2978; ibid., 1912, 
3485, 3490; ibid., 1913, 3211-12. 

132. NPS, 'A History of National Capital Parks," by Cornelius W. Heine (Washington, 
DC, 1 953), table IV; NPS, President's Park South, 44-45. 

133. Annual Report, Chief of Engineers, 1914, 3345-9; ibid., 1915, 3713; ibid., 1916, 3582; 
ibid., 1917, 3703; Goode, The Outdoor Sculpture, 134—35. 


207 

Chapter 5. President's Park and the Influence of the McMillan Plan: 1 901-1 929 



President's Park South 


the Ellipse along 17th Street. Approved by Colonel Harts, it is pri- 
marily a planting plan that shows all of the roads, walks, and paths, 
including the bridle path; it is difficult to read in reduction.™ 

In 1918-19 three grass tennis courts were laid out south of the 
Executive Mansion near 15th and B Streets. In the northeastern part 
of Sherman Plaza, 56 deciduous shrubs were planted. Pavement on 
the east side was repaired. A new volleyball court was laid out on the 
Ellipse, but its exact location is unknown. Three large evergreen trees 
and six large and 30 small deciduous shrubs were dug up and 
replanted around the Butt-Millet fountain. 135 In 1919-20 extensive 
repairs were made to the roads around the Ellipse and to East and 
West Executive Avenues. New paths were also laid out from the 
Butt-Millet fountain to the corner of 17th Street and New York 
Avenue. Shrubs were replaced at Sherman Plaza. 136 Figures 5-17 and 
5-18 show existing walks and trees around the Sherman statue and 
the drives, paths, and bridle path through the entire Ellipse area and 
Sherman Plaza in 1919. 

The Zero Milestone was unveiled on June 4, 1923. The milestone 
was on the north side of the Ellipse on the north-south meridian of 
the District of Columbia. The official starting point for measuring 
highway distances from Washington, D.C., the milestone consists of 
a shaft of pink granite 4 feet high from Balfour, North Carolina. The 
architect was Horace Peaslee; Gorham Manufacturing Company cast 
the bronze sections. 137 

A special section of the annual report for 1 923-24 notes that a site 
for a memorial to the dead of the First Division, American Expedi- 
tionary Forces, in the World War had been selected south of the 
State, War, and Navy Building, and that the concrete foundation had 
been completed. The cost was to be paid by members of the First 
Division. 138 


1 34. “Development of West Portion of President's Park," Aug. 2, 1 916, submitted by Chas. 
H. Diggs (landscape designer), recommended by O. O. Gillen (supt. of parks), and approved 
by W. W. Harts, plan no, 23-54. 

135. Annual Report, Chief of Engineers, 1919, 3822. 

1 36. Annual Report, Chief of Engineers, 1 920, 4113. There were no sections about the Ellipse 
or south grounds in annual reports for 1920-21 and 1921-22. 

137. Annual Report, Director of Public Buildings and Public Parks, 1929, 55; NPS, The 
President's Park South, Washington, D C, by George J. Olszewski (Washington, DC: Office of 
Archeology and Historic Preservation, Washington, DC, 1970), 30. 

138. There was no item specifically about the Ellipse or south grounds in the annual 
report for 1924. 


208 

Part I: The Evolution of President's Park 



In 1923 the first National Community Christmas tree was put up in 
the Ellipse. Middlebury College (Vermont) presented the cut tree as a 
Christmas present to President Coolidge. In 1924 and following 
years, living trees, balled and removed after the Christmas season, 
were used. The 1 924 tree, a Norway spruce, was planted in Sherman 
Plaza, which would become the site for national Christmas trees for 
the next 10 years. 139 

By September 30, 1924, the World War Memorial to the Dead of the 
First Division was completed and was dedicated by President Coolidge 
on October 4, 1924. 140 The monument consists of an 80-foot column 
of pink Milford granite from Massachusetts, one of the largest single 
pieces of stone ever taken from an American quarry. Cass Gilbert 
designed it, while Daniel Chester French, sculptor of the Lincoln 
Memorial, sculpted the figure of a winged Victory on top of the col- 
umn. Bronze plates at the base are inscribed with the names of the 
5,599 men of the First Division who were killed in the World War. 
The campaigns and battle honors of the First Division are carved on 
the column. 141 In March 1925 the earth mound around the base of 
the monument was sodded, and a yew hedge was planted at the top 
of the mound on all four sides. In April 1 926 granite steps were set 
in position on the north side to give access to the paved area at the 
base of the shaft. A plan was approved in 1926 for additional 
landscaping around the base of the monument, but as of June 1 926, 
work had not yet begun. 142 In 1926-27 plants were added to the 
privet hedge to fill in the gaps on the west, south, and east sides 
where steps had been proposed. Reference was again made to an 
approved landscaping plan, but no work had been done by June 30, 
1927. 143 


139. "1923" [National Community Christmas Tree Report), 1 115-30-75/Sherman Plaza, 
box 10, acc. 64A-42, WH&WPP files, ESF/WHL/NPS; NPS, Administrative History, 211, 
cites Elizabeth Peeples, American Forests, Dec. 1 940. 

140. No work was done in 1924-25 to improve the ground around the base of the 
monument, which was several feet above the grade of the park. See Annual Report, Chief of 
Engineers, 1925, 1962. 

141. Goode, The Outdoor Sculpture, 133. 

142. Annual Report, Director of Public Buildings and Public Parks, 1926, 45. 

1 43 . Annual Report, Director of Public Buildings and Public Parks, 1927, 18. There is no men- 
tion of the First Division Monument in the report for 1927—28, so presumably this work 
had not been done. The Ellipse did not have its own section in the 1 926 report, but it was 
noted in that report, as well as in those for 1927, 1928, and 1929, that there were four 
basebail diamonds and that one of four community Christmas trees had been planted in 
Sherman Plaza, Annual Repent, Director of Public Buildings and Public Parks, 1 926, 27, 28; 
ibid., 1927, 36, 37; ibid., 1928, 28-9, 30; ibid., 1929, 38, 43. 


President's Park South 


209 

Chapter 5. President's Park and the Influence of the McMillan Plan: 1901-1929 



The Grounds of the Treasury 
Building 


The Grounds of the Treasury Building 

In 1909 Secretary of the Treasury Franklin MacVeagh commissioned 
York and Sawyer, a New York City architectural firm, to study the 
Treasury Building. As a result, the entrance on the east side was 
altered, and an attic story was added (1910-21). These alterations do 
not seem to have involved any landscape changes. 

Photographs document that before 1910 the southeast lawn of the 
Treasury Building showed a star pattern. After 1910 shrubbery was 
planted around the perimeter of the southeastern lawn. A 1915 view 
of the southwest lawn shows a single evergreen tree in the middle of 
the grassy lawn, with shrubbery around the perimeter. 144 

Around 1924 George Burnap prepared a plan to landscape the 
Treasury grounds (figure 5-19). It is unclear whether or not this 
was carried out. It became a tradition at all presidential inaugural 
parades for viewing stands to be set up along Pennsylvania Avenue 
from the Capitol to the White House. The stands on the north side of 
the Treasury Building erected for President Wilson's 1913 inaugural 
parade (figure 5-20) are typical. Between 1919 and 1921, because of 
Cass Gilbert's Treasury extension on the other side of Pennsylvania 
Avenue, a tunnel was excavated under the avenue. 145 

In 1923 a bronze statue of Alexander Hamilton was erected at the 
south entrance of the Treasury Building between East Executive 
Avenue and 15th Street (figure 9-22). The sculptor was James Earle 
Fraser, a former student and assistant of Augustus Saint-Gaudens, 
and the architect was Henry Bacon. An anonymous donor funded 
it. 146 The old iron fence at the south grounds of the Treasury was 
also removed and replaced with a new one that might have matched 
the existing fence and fence piers on the west side (figure 5-21). 


144. "Fact Sheet: Treasury Building Landscaping,” memorandum to John Rogers, June 
5, 1987, OC/Treasury. 

145. Bird, "Overview of the Architectural History of the U. S. Treasury Building," 1 0-1 1 . 

146. Goode, The Outdoor Sculpture, 130. 


210 

Part 1: The Evolution or President's Park 



The Grounds of the State, War, and Navy Building 

Most historic photographs of the State, War, and Navy Building 
show its south front, and only foundation plantings of small conif- 
erous evergreens are visible. Between 1909 and 1912 the Tafts' cow, 
Pauline, grazed on the lawn south of the State, War, and Navy 
Building (figure 5-22). Some sparse foundation plantings on the 
south side can be seen in this photograph. After the stable was 
removed in 1911, the cow may have grazed elsewhere. H7 

Between 1900 and 1943 about 29 pieces of ordnance were displayed 
around the building. These may have included the two cannon that 
were captured by the United States Navy on May 1, 1898, from the 
Spanish arsenal at Cavete in the Philippine Islands after the defeat of 
the Spanish naval squadron in Manila Bay. U.S. Navy anchors were 
also displayed around the State, War, and Navy Building. 148 

In 1912 a detailed study of the plantings around the State, War, and 
Navy Building was completed. 149 The report is not signed, but it may 
have been prepared by George Burnap, then landscape architect for 
the Office of Public Buildings and Grounds. Possibly on the recom- 
mendations of this study, a large shrubbery bed was laid out south 
of the building in 1912-13 and planted with 110 large shrubs. The 
planting, which was designed to block out "trespass paths," seems to 
have succeeded. 150 

In 1913 Captain Douglas MacArthur, future general and World War 
II hero, was appointed superintendent of the State, War, and Navy 
Building. During his six-month tenure, MacArthur was responsible 
for introducing concrete urns as planters around the building and 
may also have been responsible for their design. Louis De Francheschi 
and Sons, a Washington dealer in landscaping supplies, cast the urns, 
which are 30 inches wide and 26 inches high. Of the original 28 


147. Lehman, et al., "Executive Office Building," 45. 

148. Many of these cannon were melled down in World War II. In 1984 the two cannon 
were borrowed from the Smithsonian Institution and put on display at the north 
entrance of the Old Executive Office Building. Information on the two anchors, which 
were borrowed from the Department of the Navy and placed at one of the entrances on 
the east side of the building at the same time, is from John F. Dawson and Susan Brown, 
Executive Office of the President, Old Executive Office Building. NPS, "A Report on the 
Mounting and Placement of Trophy Cannon at the Old Executive Office Building (North 
Entrance) by the National Park Service" (ESF/WHL/NPS, Oct. 1984). 

149. "Report of the Superintendent of the State, War, and Navy Department Building," 
quarter ending June 30, 1912 (Office of Historic Preservation, Old Executive Office 
Building), 21-30. 

150. Annual Report, Chief of Engineers, 1913, 3211. 


The Grounds of the State, War, 
and Navy Building 


211 

Chapter 5. President's Park and the Influence of the McMillan Plan: 1 901-1 929 



Summary 


planters, a few of which can he seen in the 1964 photograph in 
figure 5-23, 26 were still in use in 19 70. 151 


Summary 

Between 1901 and 1929 President's Park evolved gradually. During 
this period the Senate Park Commission produced what is known as 
the McMillan plan for central Washington. While the plan did not 
have any direct effect on President's Park, it did avert the massive 
enlargement or relocation of the President's House, which had been 
proposed since at least the late 1860s. The only physical legacies of 
the McMillan plan adjacent to President's Park are the Treasury 
Annex on Madison Place, the Chamber of Commerce Building on H 
Street, and the Commerce Building on 15th Street. The McMillan 
plan also led to the creation of the permanent Commission of Fine 
Arts in 1910, which has since played a critical role in the evolution 
of the landscape in President's Park. The McMillan plan remained the 
conceptual framework within which ail planning in Washington 
took place during this era, as its recommendations were followed in 
developing East and West Potomac Parks and other sites in the 
metropolitan area. 

In 1900 Frederick Law Olmsted Jr., as Nathaniel Michler had done 
before, presented a persuasive address advocating the return to the 
principles of the L'Enfant plan. It is possible that his thinking 
influenced Commissioners Burnham, McKim, and Moore, since the 
McMillan plan also sought to reclaim the monumental simplicity 
and dignity that were the essential features of the L'Enfant design. 

The 1 902 remodeling of the White House made possible the creation 
of two semi-enclosed gardens south of the building. During Theo- 
dore Roosevelt's administration colonial gardens were planned by an 
unknown landscape designer or designers. During Woodrow Wil- 
son's presidency the east garden was redesigned in a more formal, 
Renaissance style by Beatrix Farrand, and the west garden was rede- 
signed by George Burnap and First Lady Ellen Axson Wilson. Several 
commemorative trees were also planted on the White House lawns. 

Another important practice began during this period — building 
specific recreational amenities for presidents and their families. It 
started with the construction of a tennis court for Alice Roosevelt. 
After its removal another tennis court was built for Helen Taft. In 


151 . Lehman, et al., "Executive Office Building," 65-66, 72-73. 


212 

Part 1: Tiie Evolution of President's Park 



1919 after the end of World War 1 the south lawn was used for a 
yearly May reception for convalescent veterans. 


Summary 


A large number of the commemorative statues and memorials were 
installed in President's Park between 1901 and 1929. In Lafayette 
Park statues of Rochambeau, von Steuben, and Kosciuszko joined 
those of Jackson and Lafayette. A statue of Sherman was placed 
south of the Treasury Building, and a Memorial to the Dead of the 
First Division, American Expeditionary Forces, was erected south of 
the State, War, and Navy Building. In addition, the Zero Milestone 
and the Butt-Millet memorial fountain were installed. The emphasis 
on statuary and memorials in President's Park during this era reflects 
such memorialization in Washington as a whole. 

Public use of President's Park continued. The popular Easter egg roll 
attracted thousands of participants, as did the weekly Marine Band 
concerts. Lafayette Square after hours, however, drew criticism from 
many; the neighborhood was no longer the prestigious area its prime 
location would seem to imply. Recreational activities on the Ellipse 
remained popular, and the installation of commemorative statues 
and memorials attracted ever-growing numbers of visitors. 

President's Park continued to attract the nation's leading architects 
and landscape architects. The list of notables includes among others 
Frederick Law Olmsted Jr., Charles Follen McKim, Cass Gilbert, 
Daniel Burnham, and Beatrix Farrand. However, relatively few of the 
proposed plans were implemented. 


213 

Chapter 5. President's Park and the Influence of the McMillan Plan: 1901-1929 





Figure 5 1 Washington, P.C., Diagram of a Portion of City Showing Proposed Sites for Future Public Buildings. Senate of the 
United States — Committee on the District of Columbia Report, 1901 . Francis Loch Library. Graduate School of Design, 
Harvard University. 


215 

Chapter 5. President's Park and the Influence of the McMillan Plan: 1 90 J 1929 





Figure 5-2: General Plan of the President's House and Garden. Charles Follen McKim, William Rutherford Mead, and Alexander 
White — Olmsted Brothers, 1903. National Park Service, Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site. 


216 

Part I: The Evoujtion of President’s Park 






Figure 5 3: The White House, Sketch Showing Proposed Improvements on North Side. Olmsted Brothers, February 1903 
National Park Service, Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site. 



217 

Chapter 5. President's rark and the Influence of the McMillan Plan 1 901 1 929 





Figure 5-4: IVr.st Elevation of the White House with the Roof of the Executive Office (West Wing) anil Rose Garden in the 
Foreground. Photograph, ca. 1003. Office of the Curator, The White House. 



Hart I: The Evolution of President's Hark 




219 

Chapter 5 . President's Park and the In fluence of the McMillan Plan : 1901-1929 







Figure 5-6: West Colonial Garden. Photograph, 1904. National Archives, Still Pictures Division, Records of the Office of the 
Chief of Engineers, Record Group 77. 



220 

Part 1: Tut Evolution of President's Park 






221 

Chapter 5 . President's Park, anil the Influence of the McMillan Plan 1 901 1 929 








Figure 5-8: East Garden, The White House, Washington P C. Beatrix Farrand, 1914. Beatrix Farrand Collection (1955-2) 
Documents Collection, College of Environmental Design, University of California, Berkeley. 


222 

Part I: The Evolution of President's Park 



223 

Chapter 5 . President 's Park and the Influence of the McMillan Plan: 1 901 -1929 




Figure 5-10: West Garden. Frances Benjamin Johnston (photograph), ca. 1921 (maybe earlier) Library of Congress, Prints 
amt Photographs Division. 


224 

Part I: The Evolution of President's Park 





Figure 5-11: West Garden (detail). Frances Benjamin Johnston (photograph), ca. 1921. Library of Congress, 
Prints and Photographs Division. 


225 

Chapter 5 President 's Park and the Influence of the McMillan Plan 1 901 1 929 




226 

Part I: The Evolution of President's Park 




Figure 5-13: Plan of Lafayette Park. Corps of Engineers, Annual Report, 1905. National Archives, Archives Library 
Information Center, Records of the Office of the Chief of Engineers, Record Croup 77. 


227 

Chapter 5. President's Park anil the Influence of the McMillan Plan : 1901-1929 










-vn*V. : .<V 


Figure 5-14: Lafayette Square, Washington, D.C. Archibald A. Hill (photograph), June 1906. National I’ark Service, Frederick 
Law Olmsted National Historic Site. 


228 

Part 1: The Evolution of President's Park 





Figure 5-15: New Park Lodge, Lafayette Park. Corps of Engineers, Annual Report (photograph), 1914. National Archives, 
Archives Library Information Center, Records of the Office of the Chief of Engineers, Record Croup 77. 



229 

Chapter 5 . President's Park and the Influence of the McMillan Plan: 1901-1929 





Figure 5-16: Sherman riaza Showing Landscape Gardening 7 h-atment (view from the Treasury steps, looking south). Corps of 
Engineers, Annual Report (photograph), 1905. National Archives, Archives Library Information Center. 



230 

Part 1: The Evolution or President's Park 





Figure 5-17: Sherman Statue, Existing Walks, and Trees. Office of Public Buildings and Grounds, Corps of Engineers, 
September 1919 National Archives, Cartographic and Architectural Records, Records of the National Park Service, 
Record Group 79. 


231 

Chapter 5. President's Kirk and the Influence of the McMillan Plan: 1901-1929 







Figure 5-18: Grounds South of the Executive Mansio n. Office of Public Buildings and Grounds, Corps of Engineers, October 
1919. National Archives, Cartographic anil Architectural Records, Records of the National Park Service, 

Record Group 79. 


232 

Part I: The Evouition of President's Park 





PUM or u; tr CA> urj abiding m mtOACHM 

A *»*■<» :iy .^4.' ;rr P». «» .1 t -*V Utrto mo 

- £iOW*a fmtTVO 


Figure 5 19: T/an o/ U.S. Treasury Building and Approaches Showing Proposed Plantings. George Burnap, 1924. Office of Public 
Buildings and Grounds, U.S. Corps of Engineers. Office of the Curator, The Treasury. 



233 

Chapter 5. President's Park and the Influence of the McMillan Plan : 1901-1929 



Figure 5-20: Stands along the North Side of the Treasury for the Woodrow Wilson Inaugural Parade. Photograph, 1913. Library 
of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division. 


Part 1: The Evolution of President's Park 





Figure 5-21 : Removal of Old Iron Fence, South Grounds of the lYeasury Building. Photograph, The Star, May 20, 1 923. Office of 
the Curator, The Treasury. 



235 

Chapter 5 President's Park and the Influence of the McMillan Plan: 1901-1929 




Figure 5-22: South Facade of the State, War, and Navy Building with Pauline, the Cow. Photograph, ca. 1909-13. Library of 
Congress, Prints and Photographs Division. 


236 

Part 1: The Evolution of President's Park 






Figure 5-23: Detail of State, War, and Navy Building with MacArthur's Planters. Photograph, 1964. 
From General Services Administration, Executive Office Building, by Donald J. Lehman, Historical 
study 3 (Washington. DC: Government Printing Office, 1970). 



237 

Chapter 5 . President's Park and the Influence of the McMillan Plan: 1901-1929 





Chapter 6. The Olmsted Plan and Its 
Influence on President's Park: 1 929-1 948 


D uring this period the primary influence on President's Park 
was the 1935 plan by Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. and his 
firm. 1 Olmsted's major concept — to preserve the historic 
aspects of the landscape, but at the same time to adapt 
them to current needs — has guided landscape treatment at Presi- 
dent's Park since that time. Olmsted criticized the lack of residential 
character in the grounds. He felt that there was little on the White 
House grounds that indicated that a family lived there, and that 
there was ample opportunity to develop parts of the grounds for 
domestic uses. For example, considerable space on either side of the 
south vista could be used as secluded spaces for the personal and 
social needs of the first family. Olmsted believed that President's Park 
should provide the best example of residential grounds in America. 

Olmsted's 1935 plan was more of a landscape management plan 
than a traditional redesign. It called for revisions and improvements, 
especially the relocation of plantings to afford more privacy to the 
first family and to strengthen the north-south axis. Except for the 
removal of the inner east and west south drives (thus eliminating the 
"fiddle-shaped" pattern of this part of the south lawn, a feature that 
had existed since the Jackson administration), few of the proposals 
substantially altered the existing layout of the grounds. Most of the 
Olmsted's recommendations that were implemented took place in 
stages during the late 1 930s. 

Presidential involvement in the evolution of the landscape reached a 
peak when Franklin Delano Roosevelt assumed the presidency. 
Roosevelt, an inveterate amateur architect, both initiated and 


1. During this period, Ulysses S. Grant III continued as director of the Office of Public 
Buildings and Public Parks of the National Capital until June 16, 1933, followed by 
Janies A. Woodruff, who served until August 20, 1933. On August 19, 1933, control of 
the national capital parks system, including President's Park, was returned to the Depart- 
ment of the Interior, under the Office of National Parks, Buildings and Reservations (later 
the National Park Service). NPS administrators during this period included Frank T. 
Gartsidc (Aug. 20-Oct. 9, 1933), C. Marshall Finnan (Oct. 9, 1933-JuIy 31, 1939), Frank 
T. Gartside (July 31, 1939-Feb. 1, 1940); Edmund B. Rodgers (Feb. 1, 1940-April 18, 
1940); Francis F. Gillen (April 18, 1940-Jan. 2, 1941); and Irvin C. Root (Jan. 2, 1941- 
July 28, 1950). Dowd, Records of Public Buildings and Public Parks, 77; NPS, Historic Listing of 
National Park Service Officials (Washington, CXJ: 1991). 


239 

Chapter 6. The Olmsted Plan and Its Influence or? President '5 Park; ] 929-1948 



modified several landscape projects. During his administration he 
planned for new trees, such as the hemlocks by the west gate and the 
lilac in the northeast grounds. He was also the driving force behind 
the tulip poplar commemorative planting in honor of Thomas 
Jefferson. 

In 1937 the National Park Service, using the resources of the Works 
Progress Administration, renovated and partially redesigned what 
was now formally called Lafayette Park. The plan, derived from a 
previous proposal, simplified and regularized the Downing design by 
making the inner and outer path systems equal in width and 
importance. The walks were resurfaced in concrete and the urns 
relocated close to the east and west entrances. In general the public 
opposed the loss of the romantic flavor that had characterized the 
site and was highly critical of the damage to the trees that resulted 
from changes in underground water conditions. 

In 1931 Olmsted wrote a brief report for the Commission of Fine 
Arts concerning Sherman Plaza and its relationship with E Street. 
Some of his recommendations, such as realigning E Street, were 
implemented in the late 1930s. No major projects were carried out in 
the Ellipse between 1929 and 1948, although temporary barracks 
were erected there during World War II. Commemoration continued 
with the addition of two new monuments in 1936 — a granite 
District Patentees Memorial and a memorial to the Dead of the 
Second Division of the United States Army in World War I. 

The outbreak of World War II in 1941 had a major impact on public 
use of the grounds. Casual visitors were barred from the north and 
south grounds. Sentry boxes were set up at every entrance, and both 
East and West Executive Avenues were closed. At the end of the war 
yearly May receptions for convalescent veterans resumed on the 
south lawn, a practice that possibly continued until the Vietnam 
War era. 

As always, President's Park attracted the nation’s leading architects 
and landscape architects. Between 1929 and 1948 Eric Gugler, 
Thomas C. Vint, William A. Delano, John Russell Pope, and Lorenzo 
Winslow, among others, joined Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. in 
providing their expertise and talent to develop important design 
plans. Although relatively few plans were implemented at this time, 
their proposals were crucial in the evolution of the landscape, and 
some of their suggestions have become the guiding principles in the 
management of President's Park. 


240 

Part I: The Evolution of President's Park 


The Grounds of the White House 


The Grounds of the White House 


Very little activity beyond routine maintenance is recorded on the 
White House grounds during the Herbert Hoover administration, 
probably reflecting the Hoovers' greater interest in furnishing the 
family quarters and the impact of the Great Depression, which began 
only a little more than seven months after Hoover took office. Only 
the magnolia patio west of the south portico dates from this period. 2 

Shortly after he assumed the presidency. Hoover ordered some 
changes to relieve crowded conditions in the Executive Office Building 
(West Wing), such as enlarging the lobby. No sooner had the 
remodeling been completed than a fire destroyed the top floor and 
roof on Christmas Eve 1929. This required the complete reconstruc- 
tion of this part of the building. Completed in April 1930, it included 
new terra-cotta skylight enclosures in the attic, new floors and 
ceilings for the severely damaged first story, and air conditioning. 3 

The annual report for fiscal year 1929-30 identified a detailed plant- 
ing plan "using choice broad-leaved flowering evergreens" for the 
north side of the White House porte cochere. 4 Some new plants must 
have been installed around the rebuilt Executive Office Building (West 
Wing), but they are not described. The Easter egg roll continued to be 
popular on the White House grounds, with more than 48,000 
children taking part. 5 In 1930-31 a new water pipe and side jets were 
installed in the south fountain. 6 A study of the grounds was also 


2. During this period, George Harding was the White House horticulturist. NPS, "The 
President's Garden," 58. 

3. N. F, Severin Company, the contractor that had built the new roof and attic of the 
White House in 1927 was in charge of Lhe 1929 remodeling. The 1930 reconstruction 
was awarded to Charles H. Tompkins Co. of Washington. Seale, The President's House, 
893-98; Annual Report, Director of Public Buildings and Public Parks, 1930, 33-35. 

4. Annual Report, Director of Public Buildings and Public Parks, 1930, 40. Although the 
report does not identify the landscape architect, it apparently was Irving Paine. The report 
does not indicate whether the planting, a simple grouping of yews and azaleas, was ever 
carried out. See NPS, "The President's Garden," 58. Under the Horticultural Division of the 
annual report, the only specific reference indicates that flowers were regularly furnished 
to the Executive Mansion. However, the report does note that the winter had been 
particularly harsh and had killed many roses and other shrubs. As in previous years, 
trees and shrubs were treated with arsenate of lead, a mixture of lime of sulfur and 
Sunoco oil, and a mixture of Black Leaf 400 and molasses to exterminate, respectively, 
elm-leaf beetles, caterpillars, and box-leaf miners. Annual Report, Director of Public Buildings 
and Public Parks, 1930, 38-39. 

5. Annual Report, Director of Public Buildings and Public Parks, 1930, 51. 

6. Annual Report, Director of Public Buildings and Public Parks, 1931, 23, 72. 


241 

Chapter 6. The Olmstal Plan and Its Influence on President's Park: 1929-1948 



The Grounds of the While house 


completed to assess the existing trees and shrubs, undoubtedly an 
early stage of the Olmsted report. 7 

In 1931-32, new trellises were installed on the south portico, as well 
as the usual plants and flowers. 8 Several trees were planted during 
the Hoover administration. On April 21, 1931, President Hoover 
planted an American elm at the northeast corner of the north lawn, 
but it has not survived. On December 21, 1931, Hoover and 
Kentucky Congressman Maurice Thatcher planted two white oaks on 
the White House grounds. Both are designated Hoover's 
commemorative trees and still survive today. The white oak that 
Thatcher planted came from Lincoln's birthplace in Kentucky and is 
on the lower south lawn near the fence. The white oak that Hoover 
planted is on the upper south lawn near the West Wing. 9 On March 
23, 1932, First Lady Lou Hoover planted a cedar tree from "Ferry 
Farm," the boyhood home of George Washington near 
Fredericksburg, Virginia (figure 6-1). 10 By 1932 a hedge had replaced 
the mesh fencing originally installed in the 1860s.” 

Franklin Delano Roosevelt was inaugurated president on March 4, 
1933. Initially Ulysses S. Grant III stayed on as officer in charge of 
public buildings and public parks, but the following month he was 
dismissed following a dispute with First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt over 
building a swing for her grandchildren on one of the old trees on the 
south lawn. 12 


7. Annual Report, Director of Public Buildings and Public Parks, 1931, 39. 

8. Annual Report, Director of Public Buildings and Public Parks, 1 932, 16, 36. 

9. "Trees Planted by Presidents in White House Grounds, John Q, Adams through 
Herbert Hoover," OC/WH. The most recent map of the commemorative plantings shows 
two white oaks planted by Herbert Hoover: one near the southeast corner of the grounds 
and the other just north of the western mound near the path leading to the Executive Office 
Building. Precise dates for the plantings are not given on this map. 

10. The cedar tree does not appear to be on the White House grounds today. The site of 

Ferry Farm (the original house is no longer extant), near Fredericksburg, Virginia, is now a 

national historic monument. 

1 1 . Information courtesy of Krause (ESF/WHL/NP5), June 16, 2000. 

12 Grant was worried about damaging the bark of the tree, Seale, The President's House, 
925. In 1933 as part of Roosevelt's reorganization of government agencies, the Depart- 
ment of the Interior assumed control of the National Capital Parks, including President's 
Park. However, the maintenance of the White 1 louse grounds remained under the control 
of the White House chief usher until the early 1960s, when this responsibility was also 
turned over to the National Park Service. The annual reports that had been prepared since 
1818 ceased publication. From now on the historic record consists of NPS letters, reports, 
memos, plans, photographs, etc. relating to the various sites in the National Capital 
Region, including President's Park. NPS, Lafayette Park, 1; NPS, Administrative History, 219, 
241. 


242 

Part I: The Evolution of President's Park 



Almost immediately after becoming president, Franklin Delano 
Roosevelt initiated several architectural projects for the White House. 
The first was an indoor swimming pool located in the former 
servants' dining room in the west terrace. 13 To accommodate 
Roosevelt's growing staff, the Executive Office Building (West Wing) 
was reconstructed to double floor space. New York architect Eric 
Gugler designed a receding penthouse story, which was not no- 
ticeable from the street level, and extended the basement office space 
southward. A large, imaginatively landscaped light well with a 
heavy pedestal fountain provided light for the subterranean office 
space (figure 6-2). 14 

Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. was asked to report on the grading and 
planting just south of the rebuilt structure and to prepare plans. 15 
Gugler, Olmsted, and Malcolm Kirkpatrick, the resident landscape 
architect of the National Capital Parks, seem to have collaborated on 
the landscaping around the light well. The Oval Office was also 
relocated to the southeast corner of the building, its present location. 
The rebuilt Executive Office Building (West Wing) was completed by 
the end of November 1934. 16 The drying yard visible in figure 5-4 
was removed at this time. 17 


13. Although the press corps was responsible for initiating the pool project, money to 
construct it was raised from small private donations, primarily from young citizens of 
New York State, the much-publicized "pennies of school children." Seale, The President's 
House, 922-25. 

14. Gugler’s just completed Executive Office Building (West Wing) was well received by 
Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Gugler also worked with Mrs. Roosevelt on some projects. He 
had also designed the colonnade and porch area off and along the Cabinet Room and the 
Oval Office. File, "White House Fountains," OC/WH. Information from Krause 
(ESF/WHL/NPS). 

15. Frederick Law Olmsted Jr., “White House Grounds, Report on Grading and Planting 
just South of Executive Offices," Oct. 11,1 934, Olmsted Associates Papers. 

16. The Severin Company was again the contractor. Seale, The President's House, 938-49. 

1 7. The drying yard is still shown on 1 934 Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) 
drawings but was removed shortly thereafter. Information from Krause (ESF/WHL/NPS). 
Interior remodelings were also undertaken at the White House, some of them of a strictly 
functional character. However, at the ground floor level, Roosevelt had Winslow convert 
a former storage area into a spacious library. In 1935 the Diplomatic Anteroom was 
upgraded to the present Diplomatic Reception Room, when Winslow redecorated it and 
found the original fireplace. Roosevelt was then able to hold his "fireside chats" in front of 
a real fire. Seale, The President's House, 95 7-60. 


The Grounds of the White House 


243 

Chapter 6. The Olms ted Plan audits Influence on President 's Park: 1929-1948 



The Olmsted Plan 


The Olmsted Plan 


A comparison of Olmsted's 1935 plan for the White House grounds 
with other residential or public projects at that time reveals many 
unusual aspects. First, a study of the history of the landscape 
(probably at President Roosevelt's request) xvas a major part of the 
project from the beginning. Second, the emphasis was on preserving 
the historic aspects of the landscape and at the same time adapting 
them to current needs. This is a strikingly modern approach — 
neither an antiquarian restoration/reconstruction nor a complete 
overhaul of the existing design. Third, because of the Great Depres- 
sion, the project started small and stayed small, a positive factor, 
since it prevented the more radical changes that might have been 
made in a more prosperous time. The Olmsted firm, however, was in 
a somewhat frustrating situation because it was not in charge of the 
project in the usual professional manner. Olmsted and other mem- 
bers of the firm made recommendations, either in the form of letters 
and memos or in the report itself, and they also made sketches. From 
these recommendations and sketches, NPS landscape architects made 
finished drawings and sometimes also developed estimates. The 
Olmsted firm did not supervise construction, although they were 
usually informed of what was going on, and on occasion they were 
asked for their opinion. 18 


A Biography of Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. 

By the time Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. undertook this project he was 
the head of the firm established by his father. Born in 1870, the son 
of Frederick Law Olmsted and Mary Cleveland Perkins Olmsted, he 
graduated from Harvard College magna cum laude in 1894. In 1893, 
during a college vacation, he apprenticed with his father at Chicago's 
Columbian Exhibition, and in 1894 he spent a summer with the 
United States Coast and Geodetic Survey. The son did not join his 
father's firm, then called Olmsted, Olmsted and Eliot, as a paid 
member until September 1895, when the senior Olmsted retired 
because of ill health. Thus, he did not have the advantage of long 
professional association with his father that his half-brother John 
Charles Olmsted had enjoyed. In 1897, after the unexpected death of 
partner Charles Eliot, the firm became first F. L. and J. C. Olmsted 


18. There are 40 plan index cards at Olmsted National Historic Site. Of these, 26 were 
received from the National Park Service, and the Olmsted firm generated only 14. Seventeen 
of the cards arc marked "destroyed," which could mean either that they were destroyed by 
accident (for example when the firm's plans vault was flooded), or that they were "weeded" 
by the Olmsted firm's plans clerk, Harry Perkins. 


244 


Part 1: The Evolution of President's Park 



The Olmsted Plan 


and then Olmsted Brothers, a name that was retained even after the 
death of John Charles Olmsted in 1920. ! ' > 

Both before and after his service on the Senate Park Commission, 
Olmsted and his firm designed or advised on many public landscapes 
in Washington: the National Zoological Park (1890-1906); the Mall 
(1902-16); Rock Creek Park (1907-18); and Klingle Parkway, near 
Woodley Road and the National Cathedral (191 2). 20 However, it was 
his experience on the Senate Park Commission that led Frederick Law 
Olmsted Jr. to devote great attention to public and quasi-public 
service in later life, both for the District of Columbia and for the 
nation as a whole. Between 1910 and 1918 Olmsted was a member 
of the Commission of Fine Arts; later he served on the National 
Capital Parks and Planning Commission. After the United States en- 
tered World War I he became manager of the Landscape Architecture 
Division of the United States Housing Corporation, which built 
housing and new towns for workers in war-related industries. 
Between 1928 and 1956 he served as a member of a committee of 
experts that advised on plans and policies concerning Yosemite 
National Park. During this entire time he was also responsible for 
many of Olmsted Brothers’ most important projects, both public and 
private. 21 In 1903 President Theodore Roosevelt benefited from the 
brilliance of the promising young landscape architect; in 1934 it was 
the seasoned professional who advised President Franklin D. 
Roosevelt. 


19. Edward Clark Whiting and William Lyman Phillips, "Frederick Law Olmsted, 1870- 
1957: An Appreciation of the Man and His Achievements," Landscape Architecture 48, no. 3 
(April 1958), 144-57; Laura Wood Roper, FLO; A Biography of Frederick Law Olmsted 
(Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1973), 456-75. Roper interviewed and 
corresponded with and knew Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. In 1899 the Olmsted brothers 
were among the charter members of the American Society of Landscape Architects 
(ASLA); Frederick was president of the society in 1908-9 and in 1919-23. In 1933 Ihe 
ASIA proposed a competition for the White House grounds, although it was never held 
because of concerns about security. NFS, Administrative Fiistory, 244. Whiting and Phillips, 
"Olmsted," 146. See also Cynthia Zaitzevsky, "Education and Landscape Architecture," in 
Architectural Education and Boston: Centennial Publication of the Boston Architectural Center, 
7 889-1989, ed. Margaret Henderson Floyd (Boston: Boston Architectural Center, 1989), 20- 
34. 

20. Charles E. Beveridge and Carolyn F. Hoffman, comps., The Master List of Design 
Projects of the Olmsted Firm, 1857-1950 (Boston: National Association for Olmsted Parks, in 
conjunction with the Massachusetts Association for Olmsled Parks, 1987), 4. These projects 
were all assigned job numbers, as were Lafayette Square and the Senate Park Commission. 
A job number was usually assigned on the basis of one contact or piece of correspondence; 
the presence of a job on the master list does not necessarily mean that it was a project that 
was fully designed and executed by the firm. However, of the projects listed, the National 
Zoo and Rock Creek Park were definitely designed and carried out by Olmsted Brothers, and 
some of the others may have l>een. 

21. Whiting and Phillips, "Olmsted," 146-49. 


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The Olmsted Plan 


Olmsted’s Plans for the White House Grounds 


In October 1932 landscape architect Gilmore D. Clarke of the 
Commission of Fine Arts wrote to H. P. Caemmerer, then secretary 
of the commission, agreeing with Olmsted's 1928 assessment (see 
pages 197-199) and urging that work on the White House grounds 
be started as soon as possible. 22 Early in 1934 Charles Moore sub- 
mitted Olmsted's 1928 report to First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, who 
promptly brought it to her husband's attention. 23 Some time during 
the last week of April the president and Olmsted met, and Franklin D. 
Roosevelt instructed the landscape architect to prepare detailed 
recommendations for improvements to the White House grounds. At 
this point Olmsted requested a full account of the practical require- 
ments that affected the grounds. 24 On May 1 1 Olmsted went back to 
Washington, examined the grounds, and met with Captain 
Dalrymple and Lieutenant E. P. Locke Jr. of the National Park 
Service. He also obtained a Photostat of the topographical map of the 
White House grounds. The following day, Olmsted returned with the 
firm's plant specialist Hans Koehler to further examine the 
grounds. 25 

Olmsted and Koehler field-checked the trees and shrubs on the topo- 
graphical map. The first plan produced by the firm was based on a 
1925 survey by the Office of Public Buildings and Public Parks, 
"with corrections by Olmsted Brothers, 1935, especially as to names 
of trees'' (see figure 6-3.) Although the details are difficult to read. 


22. Clarke to Caemmerer, Oct. 19, 1932, box 206, project files, RG 66, NA. 

23. CFA, minutes of meeting, Oct. 19, 1934, report of Charles Moore on the landscape 
plan. White House grounds, box 206, project tiles, RG 66, NA. 

24. Caemmerer to Olmsted, Apr. 18, 1934; Olmsted to Marvin H. McIntyre (sec. to the 
president). May 4, 1934; all in Olmsted Associates Papers. 

25. Report of Olmsted's visit to White House, May 11 and 12, 1934, Olmsted Associates 
Papers. Olmsted said that he obtained the Photostat of the topographical map from C. 
Marshall Finnan's office, then superintendent of National Capital Parks. Hans Koehler, who 
lived in Marlboro, Massachusetts, was employed by the OLrnsted firm between 1890 and 
1941 and was its chief horticultural specialist for most of that time. Among other projects 
in the 1 920s and 1 930s, he planned and oversaw all the landscaping for the home and office 
grounds of Olmsted Brothers in Brookline, Massachusetts. Koehler's presence on the White 
House job undoubtedly indicates that Olmsted considered horticulture to be one of the most 
important issues of this project. See employee files, Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic 
Site, Brookline, Massachusetts; "Hans Koeliler, Landscaping Artist Dies," Marlboro Daily 
Enterprise, July 1, 1951, I; and Cynthia Zaitzevsky, Cynthia Zaitzevsky Associates, in 
collaboration with the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University, "Cultural Landscape 
Report, Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site, Fairsted,' Brookline, Massachusetts," 
Final Draft, July 1994, chapters 3 and 4 of vol. 1A: "5ite History and Illustrations," and 
appendix H of vol. IB, "Appendices"; Artemas P. Richardson, telephone interview with 
Cynthia Zaitzevsky, June 1, 1993. 


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The Olmsted Plan 


this survey is one of the most useful documents of the period, re- 
cording existing conditions exactly as they were before any of 
Olmsted's recommendations were implemented. Among other 
things, it shows the Irish yew that Olmsted had complained about, 
located almost directly on axis to the south of the south fountain. 
There was also a great proliferation of flowering plant material all 
around the south fountain, including forsythia, saucer magnolias, 
and Japanese cherries planted during the Taft administration. 26 
Around the fountain to the north were more forsythia and flowering 
quince. The east and west gardens appear to have been essentially as 
they were during the Wilson administration. The new landscaped 
light well to the south of the West Wing (figure 6-2) appears on the 
survey, as does the "fiddle-shaped" driveway to the south of the 
White House. 

Most of the existing commemorative trees can be located on the plan, 
although they are not identified as such on the survey. In the 
published report, a separate map of commemorative trees was 
included. The survey shows that the fern-leaf beeches planted on 
either side of the east entrance by President and Mrs. Theodore 
Roosevelt in 1904 had been replaced with European hornbeams. On 
the plan of commemorative trees, the legend indicates that President 
Warren G. Harding had planted the hornbeam to the south of the 
entrance. Its counterpart to the north does not seem to have been a 
commemorative tree. Both hornbeams were probably removed when 
the East Wing was expanded later in the Franklin D. Roosevelt 
administration. 

By June 1934 Olmsted had obtained the services of Professor Morley 
Jeffers Williams of Harvard's Department of Landscape Architecture 
to do the historical research on the grounds of the White House 
necessary for the project. 27 

During September 1934 the Olmsted firm was asked to advise on 
grading in the immediate vicinity of the Executive Office Building 
(West Wing), then still being constructed. 28 By this time the firm had 


26. Eighteen Japanese cherries had been planted around the southern fountain in 1911- 
12, a gift of the people of Tokyo. 

27. Olmsted lo McIntyre, June 12, 1934; Olmsted to Williams, June 12, 1934; Olmsted 
to Finnan, June 12, 1934; all from the Olmsted Associates Papers. Williams had already 
carried out similar research on the history of the. Mount Vernon grounds and was 
stationed at Mount Vernon that summer. Arrangements were made for Williams to have 
access to various historical sources, presumably some of the same ones consulted for the 
present report. 

28. Olmsted to Locke, Sept. 20, 1934; Locke to Olmsted, Sept. 24, 1934; Olmsted to 
Locke, Sept. 28, 1934; all in Olmsted Associates Papers. 


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Chapter 6. Vie Olmsted Plan and Its Influence on President’s Park: 1929-1948 



The Olmsted Plan 


prepared an early draft of the report. Olmsted visited the White 
House grounds on September 28-29, studied certain aspects of them 
with Clarence E. Howard, another landscape architect from the 
Olmsted firm, and made revisions to the draft report. Olmsted had 
observed that the lighting system needed revision and that the 
fountains were leaking. Two conifers on the edge of the north lawn 
also needed to be removed. 29 

On October 9, 1934, President Roosevelt went around the grounds 
with Olmsted, Gugler, Moore, members of the White House staff, 
and an architect from the National Park Service. Several important 
decisions were made at this site visit and are worth quoting from 
Moore's account: 

The inner one of two driveways south of the White House 
may be eliminated. 

The main driveway may be narrowed directly south of the 
White House, so as to give more room for a box garden to 
be arranged so as to be appurtenant to the President's office 
and the Cabinet Room. 

The east and west driveway near the Fountain be subdued. 

The planting around the Fountain be kept low, so as to 
create no disturbance in the vista. 

The south vista be opened in the grounds by the elimination 
of now obstructing trees. 

The vista open to the public be enlarged to approximately 
150 feet, giving the finest possible view of the White House. 

A high solid hedge be planted so as to screen the grounds at 
the east and west sides, leaving open only the south vista. 

Thus the concentration of the view to one point would add 
to its interest and effectiveness so far as the public is 
concerned. At the same time the privacy of the grounds, so 
necessary to the conception of the residence of the President, 
will be secured. 

Those trees which have outlived their beauty and usefulness 
be replaced by trees preferably those keeping their greenness 
through the winter. The tulip poplar, the magnolia and 
certain varieties of pine were favored. 34 ’ 


29. "The White House Visit by F. L. Olmsted, Sept. 28-29, 1934," Olmsted Associates 
Papers. By the early 1940s, Howard was working for the National Park Service. (Olmsted 
client file, Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site, Brookline, MA.) 

30. CFA, minutes of meeting, Oct. 19, 1934, landscape plan, White House grounds, 
Charles Moore's report regarding an inspection of the White House grounds on Oct. 9, 
1934, box 206, project files, RG 66, NA. 


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Part 1: The Evolution of President's Park 



The Olmsted Plan 


In 1937 the Executive Avenue fence, the gate piers, and gates were 
replaced to match those at Pennsylvania Avenue, except for the area 
between the two east entrance carriageways. Olmsted had proposed 
to remove the east fountain and straighten out the east entrance 
fence line. 31 

Before Roosevelt came out on the grounds, Olmsted spent consider- 
able time discussing the grading around the West Wing with Eric 
Gugler. 32 A few days later Olmsted submitted a detailed report on the 
subject of "Grading and Planting just south of Executive Offices." 
Gugler's intention had been to disguise the new office building 
substructure by having the ground near it graded in an informal 
manner rather than designing a more formal terrace treatment. In 
principle, Olmsted agreed with this. After consulting with Koehler, 
he realized that the informal grading would require a great deal more 
soil, would probably kill "the immensely important great linden tree 
with its present perfection of massive foliage" just to the south of the 
substructure and would also endanger a deodar cedar some 60 feet to 
the southeast. 33 

As an alternative, Olmsted recommended that the subsoil filling that 
had already been spread over the natural surface of the ground 
should be removed down to the existing topsoil. The artificial 
appearance of the terrace could then be disguised by masking the 
edges with informal plantings. In addition to the two trees he wanted 
to save, Olmsted also referred to a "decrepit" Paulownia tree 
northwest of the linden that might eventually be removed. All three 
of these trees appear on the March 1935 survey illustrated in figure 
6-3. He also recommended some changes in the grading to the east of 
the West Wing substructure, but he noted that this grading would 
be temporary and that a final plan for it would depend on a final 
decision about the west garden design. 34 A grading plan for this site 
accompanied the report. 35 On October 31, 1934, the National Park 
Service prepared a planting plan for the area. 36 


31 . Information courtesy of Krause (ESF/WHL/NPS), June 16, 2000. 

32. "White House Grounds. Visit, Oct. 9, 1934. F. L. O.," Olmsted Associates Papers. This 
is a handwritten, fragmentary report of the visit. 

33. Olmsted, "White House Grounds: Report on Grading and Planting just south of 
Executive Offices," Oct. 11,1 934, 1-2, Olmsted Associates Papers. 

34. Olmsted, "White House Grounds: Report," Oct. 11, 1934, 2-4. 

35. Tliis plan is identified as Ex. 530, file. 2843-1. No plan with this number or following 
this description is now in the archives at the Olmsted National Historic Site. 

36. A copy of this plan is in the collections of the Olmsted National Historic Site. 


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Chapter 6. The Olmsted Plan and Its Influence on President's Park: 1929-1948 



The Olmsted Plan 


On October 16, 1934, Olmsted submitted it 13-page report on the 
White House grounds, with 13 pages of explanatory notes and a 
map. The substance of the report had already been discussed with 
Roosevelt during the site visit a week earlier. It is worth noting that 
Olmsted's cover letter reveals that the firm did not yet have a 
contract for their study of the White House grounds. He explained 
that he had served on several unpaid commissions, such as the 
Senate Park Commission and the Commission of Fine Arts, and was 
currently a member of the National Capital Park and Planning 
Commission. Olmsted offered to continue to contribute his services 
for the White House project, but he indicated that he had incurred 
considerable expenses, including substantial staff time for Koehler 
and others. An addendum to the report listed recommended work for 
which preliminary estimates were needed at that point. Olmsted sent 
copies of the report and covering letter to Arno B. Cammerer, 
director of the National Park Service. 37 

Olmsted apparently had been seriously ill during the summer of 
1934 and had to take a few months off in the late fall and winter. 
During this inteival he left the project, including the preparation of 
estimates, in the hands of his partner Henry Vincent Hubbard, a 
landscape architect and planner of great distinction, whom Koehler 
and Howard assisted. The estimates for road construction were to be 
developed primarily by the engineering staff of the National Capital 
Park and Planning Commission, with the collaboration of Hubbard 
and Koehler. However, Olmsted continued to stay in close touch with 
them from Colorado, where he was recuperating. 38 

To ease the transition, Olmsted spent Five days in Washington be- 
tween October 18 and 23, making site visits and attending meetings. 
Howard's report described intensive discussions and conferences and 
further examination of the grounds. 39 An October 22 meeting was 


37. Olmsted, "Report on the White House Grounds," Oct. 9, 1934; Olmsted, "White 
House Grounds: List of items referred to in report of October 9, 1934, for all or most of 
which preliminary estimates of cost are now desirable," Oct. 16, 1934; Olmsted to the 
president, Oct. 16, 1934 (explanatory letter of transmittal); Olmsted to A. B. Cammerer, 
Oct. 18, 1934. All these items, except possibly the letter to Cammerer, are in box 206, 
project files, RG 66, NA, as well in the Olmsted Associates Papers in the Library of Congress. 

38. Olmsted to the president, Oct. 16, 1934; Olmsted to Cammerer, Oct. 16, 1934; both 
from the Olmsted Associates Papers. Henry Vincent Hubbard (1875-1947), as well as being 
a partner in Olmsted Brothers, was a member of the faculty of Harvard University's 
program in landscape architecture for 35 years. He also had been the program's very first 
graduate in 1901. In 1929, Hubbard established the School of City and Regional Planning at 
Harvard, an experimental program funded by the Rockefeller Foundation. See "Henry 
Vincent Hubbard: Ai Official Minute on His Professional Life and Work," Landscape 
Architecture 37, no. 2 (January 1948), 46-57, and Zaitzevsky, "Education and Landscape 
Architecture," 31 . 

39. Clarence Howard, "Report of Visit," Oct. 18-25, 1934, Olmsted Associates Papers. 


250 

Part 1: The Evolution of President's Park 



The Olmsted Plan 


attended by Koehler, Howard, and Olmsted; Lieutenant Locke; 
architect Lorenzo Winslow; Thomas C. Vint (chief landscape archi- 
tect of the National Park Service); Malcolm Kirkpatrick (the resident 
landscape architect of the National Capital Parks); and Mr. Reeves 
(the gardener at the White House). During the meeting a telephone 
call came in from President Roosevelt authorizing Locke to provide 
the funds for the firm's services. Koehler was on the White House 
grounds between October 22 and 25, accompanied by Kirkpatrick, 
who had been delegated to formulate and draw up the Olmsted 
firm's concepts. Kirkpatrick had brought with him a grading plan 
for the grounds around the extension of the Executive Office 
Building, and Koehler prepared a planting study on the spot, from 
which Kirkpatrick was to make a finished plan. 40 

After the October 22 meeting Olmsted met further with Vint, Locke, 
and A. E. Demaray, associate director of the National Park Service, to 
discuss “ways and means." President Roosevelt had asked Locke to 
have estimates made for professional services and expenses and for 
making the improvements. Sources of funding were discussed, 
including the Public Works Administration, and the form that the 
final publication would take. Olmsted had wanted to produce an 
official government document, but the Secret Service had adhered to 
the policy of not allowing the publication of accurate official maps of 
either the grounds or the interior of the White House. It was decided 
that there would be only a few copies of the final report, but they 
would be very attractively presented. Two of them — Roosevelt's 
personal copy and the one for the White House library — would be 
elegantly bound. At this point, the chief task for the Olmsted firm 
was to prepare estimates and a draft contract. 41 

On October 29 Olmsted wired Demaray, suggesting a sum of $2,000 
for a revised general plan report, covering his services and expenses, 
historical investigations, and the work of assistants to complete the 
estimates. It would not include later work on details, supervision, or 
other matters. 42 Demaray wired Olmsted in return asking for a lump 


40. During this meeting Olmsted read his October 9 report and explanatory notes, part 
of his October 15 letter to the president, his October 11 report on grading and planting 
south of the executive offices, and his October 11 letter to Cammerer. Koehler, "White 
House Grounds, Washington, D C., Report of Visit, October 22, 23 and 24, 1934," Olmsted 
Associates Papers. 

41. Olmsted to partners from La Junta, Colorado, Oct. 25, 1934, Olmsted Associates 
Papers. 

42. Olmsted to Demaray, telegram from Mesa Verde National Park, Oct. 29, 1934, 
Olmsted Associates Papers. Olmsted apparently had been asked to consult on Mesa Verde 
National Park and possibly other national parks. 


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Chapter 6. The Olmsted Plan and Its Influence on President's Park: 1 929-1 948 



The Olmsted Plan 


sum estimate that would include detailed plans and supervision, and 
Olmsted proposed $3,000. 43 

On November 6, 1934, Kirkpatrick sent Koehler blueprints of the 
planting plan for the vicinity of the Executive Office Building, which 
he had developed from Koehler's sketch.'’' 1 On November 13 Howard 
and Koehler conferred with Kirkpatrick about this planting plan, 
which they approved. Kirkpatrick was also to make a planting plan 
for the rest of the grounds. Koehler and Howard were surprised to 
find out that at Locke's request, Kirkpatrick had made a preliminary 
estimate for carrying out all the work recommended, but he had not 
submitted it to the Olmsted firm. Koehler and Howard met with Vint 
and Kirkpatrick on November 1 7, and they explained that there had 
been a "precipitous demand" for the estimate and that they regretted 
not having sent it to the firm.' 15 Howard also took some photographs 
on this trip, including the view of the east entrance shown in figure 
6-4. 


Shortly afterward, the Olmsted firm was informed that planting 
around the Executive Offices would begin at the end of November. 46 
The planting was not actually begun until December, when some 
modifications were proposed to the Olmsted firm design concept as 
developed by Kirkpatrick. 47 On December 3 the Commission of Fine 
Arts, especially Gilmore D. Clarke, its landscape architect member, 
reviewed the plan. Clarke recommended that the new planting south 
of the extended executive offices be kept as simple and restrained as 
possible and that nothing should be added that was not absolutely 
necessary until the Olmsted firm had completed its study of the 
entire White House grounds. The submitted plan showed a large bed 
of plants contrary to the Olmsted report. It also showed a hedge 
around the edge of the sunken court. Clarke criticized the hedge 
because it would take light away from the offices below, and it 


43. The matter of the contract with the Olmsted firm was not settled until well into 
1935. Olmsted to partners from Mesa Verde National Park, Oct. 30, 1934, Olmsted 
Associates Papers. 

44. Kirkpatrick to Koehler, Nov, 6, 1923, Olmsted Associates Papers. 

45. Between November 12 and 26 Howard was in Washington most of the time with 
Koehler, working on Union Square, which was then under construction, and Analostan 
Island, as well as the White House project. “Report of Clarence Howard's visit to 
Washington, November 12th to 26th, 1934, in Connection with Union Square, The White 
House, Analostan Island"; "White House Grounds, Washington, D C., Report of Conference, 
November 13, 1934, by Hans Koehler"; Howard to Henry V. Hnbhard, Nov. 17, 1934; all 
in the Olmsted Associates Papers. 

46. Olmsted Brothers to Dcniaray, telegram, Nov. 23, 1934, Olmsted Associates Papers. 

47. Finnan to Koehler, Dec. 3, 1934, Olmsted Associates Papers. 


252 

Part I: The F.voi.ution of President's Park 



The Olmsted Plan 


would have no apparent reason for being as seen from the ground. 
He recommended that the hedge be replaced by ground cover of 
English ivy and that the sidewalk proposed just outside the presi- 
dent's office be relocated. 48 On December 7 Henry Vincent Hubbard 
went over the planting plan with Clarke and recommended that, for 
the time being, no more plantings should be set in this area than was 
necessary to keep it from appearing very raw. 49 On December 13 C. 
Marshall Finnan of the National Park Service responded that the 
planting had gone in and had been held to the minimum. 50 

Kirkpatrick inventoried the trees and shrubs on the White House 
grounds in January 1935, recommending which ones to keep and 
which ones to remove. 51 The list has survived, but no accompanying 
map appears to exist. Some of the locations can be identified by the 
survey (figure 6-3). 

In February 1935 the Olmsted Brothers' contract was discussed 
extensively. On February 8 the firm received word that the Public 
Works Administration had allocated $2,000 for making the general 
plans for the White House grounds. The National Park Service also 
sent a draft contract. 52 Hubbard then prepared three separate draft 
contracts. The first was to cover Olmsted's services and expenses in 
preparing the report, the history, and the general plan. If additional 
services were required for the preparation of detailed plans, 
consulting, and supervision, Hubbard suggested entering into a 
second contract for these. The third draft contract was an alternative 
to the second, except that it specified the various plans in detail. 53 


48. Moore to Finnan, Dec. 4, 1934, box 207, project Files, RG 66, NA. 

49. Hubbard to Cammerer, Dec. 7, 1 934, Olmsted Associates Papers. 

50. Finnan to Hubbard, Dec. 13, 1934, Olmsted Associates Papers. This letter illustrates 
the confusion that seems to have frequently occurred because of the unusual way in which 
the design process was handled on this project. In this case Kirkpatrick had been asked to 
develop finished designs from Olmsted firm sketches and written reports, but he actually 
seems to have introduced fairly significant changes on his own. His resulting plans, 
however, were referred to as "Olmsted" plans. 

51. Kirkpatrick, "Grounds of Executive Mansion," Jan. 5, 1935 (in letter from Finnan, 
Jan. 7, 1935), Olmsted Associates Papers. 

52. Vint to Hubbard, Feb. 8, 1935, Olmsted Associates Papers. 

53. Hubbard concluded, "Mr. Olmsled has fell from the very start of this work that in 
order to insure the best execution of the recommendations incorporated in his plan and 
report, it would be most desirable for him or one of his associates not only to keep in 
close contact with your office during the preparation of the working drawings and 
awarding of contracts, but also to have more or less continuously some supervision of 
the actual work as it is carried out on the ground." Hubbard to Cammerer, Feb. 12, 1935, 
Olmsted Associates Papers. See also Hubbard to Vint, Feb. 11, 1935, Olmsted Associates 
Papers. 


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Chapter 6. The Olmsted Plan and Its Influence on President's Park: 1929-1948 



The Olmsted Plan 


By the end of February no progress had been made on the contract. A 
new issue had emerged: the possible redesign of the west garden and 
possibly of the east garden. Olmsted did not like either one, and their 
condition seems to have deteriorated. On February 25, Hubbard 
wrote to Olmsted: 

1 talked today with Demaray, Vint, Finnan, two lawyers 
and Captain . . . Locke. No way now to get more than 
$2,000 for the Preliminary report on the White House 
Grounds. . . . 

But he does want something now about the formal gardens. 

Gugler has made an uninspired sketch which I have. If you 
show nothing but words, Gugler's plan may well be carried 
out. 

Some action was necessary at once, so I agreed to include a 
sketch for the gardens, together with the statement that we 
had considered Gugler's plan in your preliminary report. . . . 

Why not leave the east garden alone, except for replacing 
ratty and overgrown trees, and general slicking up? 

Why did you not propose to get rid of the rotten fountain 
pool on the main axis of the WFiite House south of the cross 
road?” 


Olmsted wired back from California, agreeing to this approach 
toward the gardens, but about the fountain he said: "Though south 
fountain is rotten in detail, the abundant flow of water there is 
agreeable from afar and seems too scarce and precious in 
Washington to eliminate." 55 Hubbard accordingly prepared a sketch 
and memorandum concerning the west garden. 56 He recommended 
that many features be kept, including the high hedge just south of 
the colonnade and the path running north-south through the east 
end. He also suggested various changes in order to relate the garden 
better to the extended office building. 57 


54. Hubbard to Olmsted, Feb. 25, 1935, Olmsted Associates Papers. 

55. Olmsted to Hubbard, telegram from Redondo Beach, CA., Mar. 3, 1935, Olmsted 
Associates Papers. 

56. Hubbard noted that, "The garden as it stands is of no great antiquity and might 
therefore be subject to change, although it is evident that any change should be 
demonstrably a change for the better both as to its appearance and as to its use as at 
present contemplated." Olmsted Brothers IHenry Vincent Hubbard], "Executive Mansion, 
Washington, D. C, Memorandum from Olmsted Brothers to Arno B. Cammcrcr, Director, 
National Park Service, to Accompany Study for Temporary Revision of the West Garden, 
April 9, 1 935," 1 , Olmsted Associates Papers. Also in box 207, project files, RG 66, NA. 

57. Olmsted Brothers, "Executive Mansion," memorandum, 1935, 2-3. 


254 

Part 1: The Evolution op President's Park 



The Olmsted Plan 


Early in March the firm received maps of trees on the White House 
grounds. 58 In May detailed estimates were made from the Olmsted 
firm's preliminary report; however, Olmsted and Hubbard believed 
the plans did not have sufficient details to allow for proper estimates. 
The firm still did not have a contract for the project, 59 In addition, the 
issue of the west garden had not yet been resolved, and Gugler's 
design was apparently still pending. Olmsted and Hubbard thought 
highly of Gugler as an architect, but not as a landscape architect, 60 

By June some of these issues had been resolved, and the firm was 
helping prepare estimates to relocate and rebuild roadways. 6 ’ In July 
Olmsted and Edwin Mitchell Prellwitz, another member of the 
Olmsted firm, took several photographs of the White House 
grounds, a few of winch were used in the final report submitted to 
President Roosevelt on October 24, 1935. 62 Figure 6-5 is Olmsted's 
view of the east garden, which shows the trees around the pool in a 
much overgrown and possibly "ratty" condition. 

The final report is a slightly expanded version of the document that 
Olmsted had submitted a year earlier, and it incorporates the obser- 
vations he made in his January 1928 letter to Grant. Olmsted's 
recommendations were essentially the same in all three documents. 63 


58. The maps used nomenclature that had been determined by a Mr. Hoffman when he 
had been park naturalist. Malcolm Kirkpatrick (resident landscape architect) to Koehler, 
Mar. 2, 1 935, with enclosed "List of Trees and Shrubs in the Executive Mansion Grounds," 
Olmsted Associates Papers. 

59. Hubbard to Moore, May 10, 1935; Moore to Hubbard, May 13, 1935; Moore to 
Roosevelt, May 14, 1935. Alt in the Olmsted Associates Papers. 

60. Hubbard to Moore, May 14, 1935, Olmsted Associates Papers. Also in box 207, 
project files, RG 66. 

61. Charles C. Castdla (National Capital Parks) to Gartside, memorandum, June 1, 1935; 
Olmsted, "White House Grounds," report of visit, June 17-21, 1935; Olmsted, "Estimate of 
Cost of Desirable Improvements on the White House Grounds," June 1935; all in Olmsted 
Associates Papers. See also Caemmerer to Moore, June 19, 1935, box 206, project files, RG 
66, NA. The contract issue apparently had been settled by then, but there is no copy of the 
contract in the files at the Olmsted Associates Papers. 

62. Olmsted Brothers, "Report to the President.” The client file at the Olmsted National 
Historic Site has little information on Prellwitz, except that he worked on some of the firm's 
well-known estates on Long Island (Aldred and Burden) and that he eventually relocated to 
Providence, Rhode Island. 

63. Williams's research on "The Historical Background of the Design of the White 
House Grounds," which consisted of a 25-page narrative and 50 annotated historic plans, 
maps, and views was included as part 2 of the Olmsted Brothers' final report. Williams 
apparently was the first person to attempt a thorough study of the history of the 
grounds. Most of his research, although not very detailed, still holds up today. Olmsted 
Brothers, "Report to the President," 56-81, plus illustrations. The original "master" of this 
report is at the Olmsted National Historic Site. Copies are in the Olmsted Associates Papers, 
at the OC/WH and ESF/WHL/NPS. 


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Chapter 6. The Olmsted Plan and Its Influence or? President 's Park: 1 929-1948 



The Olmsted Plan 


At the beginning, he described certain defects in utilitarian features of 
the White House grounds, such as the limitation of office space, 
inadequate space for cars to load and unload visitors at the east 
entrance, inadequate service yard space, and defects of the road 
system south of the White House. 64 This last problem was the most 
serious: 

The present system of roads within the White House 
Grounds south of the building is the result of numerous 
past changes of a rather patchwork sort, adapting very 
different earlier plans to changing practices in use. . . . 

The roads produce unpleasant landscape effects, they are 
not entirely convenient for the vehicular uses to which they 
are now put. . . . 

Unpleasant landscape effects of the present road system are 
(1) the interruption of the axial lawn by a conspicuous 
band of transverse roadway cutting it in two in the middle 
as seen from the White House, (2) the duplication of the 
lateral roads on each side of the axis, and (3) certain details 
of crowning, guttering and surface material. 65 

He then addressed general landscape defects, such as lack of privacy. 
Most areas of the grounds were not screened sufficiently from the 
outside. On the one hand he criticized the existing privet hedge, 
which was both too low and too "diaphanous." On the other hand 
the one place where the public should be allowed to look in, the end 
of the south axis, was blocked by inappropriate plantings. 66 He also 
recommended planting a few long-lived trees to replace those that 
were nearing the end of their life spans, but he cautioned that their 
exact time of demise could not be accurately predicted. 67 On this 
subject, he warned: 

The attempt to grow, underneath the canopy of the great 
old trees, young trees fit to succeed them is utterly futile in 
this kind of landscape; for long before such undergrowth 
trees could attain a respectable size they would have become 
distorted, by over-shading and competition, to a condition 
making them quite unfit to replace their spreading and full- 
foliaged predecessors. 68 


64. Olmsted Brothers, "Report to the President," 2-6. 

65. Olmsted Brothers, "Report to the President,” 4-5. 

66. Olmsted Brothers, "Report to the President," 7-9. 

67. Olmsted Brothers, "Report to the President," 9-10. 

68. Olmsted Brothers, "Report to the President," 11-12. 


256. 

Part I: The Evolution of President's Park 



The Olmsted Plan 


The practice he criticized must have been suggested by President 
Roosevelt, who may have been influenced either by the writings of 
Gifford Pinchot, who followed European models of forestry, or by 
his own observations from his youthful visits to the Black Forest of 
Germany with his father. Roosevelt presumably followed this 
practice at Inis own property in Hyde Park, New York, where he 
managed extensive forests. Olmsted apparently was able to convince 
the president not to institute such a program at the White House . 69 

Olmsted endorsed another tree planting proposal by Roosevelt, al- 
though it was never carried out, in the recommended location. It was 

a sylvan feature suggested by the President, and rightly 
noted by him as both pleasing in itself, highly characteristic 
of the region surrounding Washington, and relatively 
durable. Tliis is a dense pure stand of nearly even-aged 
tulip-poplars, with columnar aspiring trunks and high 
foliage canopy, which would completely fill tliis ineffective 
gap within the surrounding stand of more spreading and 
wide-spaced trees . 70 

The "ineffective gap" was a plateau near the east boundary and 
southeast of the building that was then in bare turf. 

Olmsted advised against the unnecessary planting of trees to avoid 
"frittering away" open space. He strongly recommended that trees 
and shrubs blocking the south vista be removed, especially a weeping 
beech and flowering trees near the south fountain. In general, he felt 
that the planting in the southernmost part of the grounds had not 
been well thought out and that the turf throughout the grounds 
should be improved. He also advised that the ornamental planting on 
the north side of the house be "simplified into a more dignified and 
less restless and self-assertive appearance .” 71 

Concerning the two formal gardens, Olmsted recommended a greater 
richness of floral effects in both. Repeating comments in his earlier 


69. In 1940 Roosevelt mandated an identical tree replacement program at the 
Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site in Hyde Park, a property that he had been 
instrumental in having Ihe National Park Service acquire. This was official policy at the 
Vanderbilt site until some time after Roosevelt's death in 1945. See Patricia M. O'Donnell 
et al.. Cultural Landscape Report for Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site, vol. 1: Site 
History, Existing Conditions, and Analysis, NPS Cultural Landscape Publication 1 (Boston: 
Division of Cultural Resource Management, North Atlantic Region, NPS, 1992), 186-88, 
notes 23 and 25. As of 1995, there was no cultural landscape report for the home of 
Franklin D. Roosevelt in Hyde Park, New York, but it is highly likely that Roosevelt 
followed the tree replacement policy in his own forests and grounds. 

70. Olmsted Brothers, "Report to the President," 12-13. 

71. Olmsted Brothers, "Report to the President," 1 1-1 7; quotation on page 16. 


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Chapter 6. The Olmsted Plan and Its Influence on President's Park: 1929-1948 



The Olmsted Plan 


reports and in Hubbard's letter, he wrote that the gardens had a 
"makeshift look" and that the conifers in the east garden were out of 
scale and overgrown. 72 The defects, he felt, were "due in part to 
inadequacies in the original design of the gardens, in part to hasty 
and imperfect execution, in part to ill-advised alterations from time 
to time, and in part to very inadequate maintenance."” A redesign of 
both gardens with an identical, very simple layout was included in 
the report, presumably with floral displays around the borders 
(figure 6-6). The 1935 "General Plan for Improvements" (figure 6-7) 
incorporated the recommended simplification of the drives, revisions 
to the gardens, and the opening up of the south vista. Also in the 
report were several pairs of "before" and "after" photographs. Since 
these were not drawings, the photographs showing proposed condi- 
tions were obviously retouched. Figures 6-8 and 6-9 show existing 
and proposed conditions for views north to the White House. 

President Roosevelt reacted positively to the Olmsted Brothers' report, 
but he returned it with a notation to his staff that it was to be taken 
up again with him in November 1936, if he was reelected. Locke felt 
that estimates should be prepared and that the opinion of the Fine 
Arts Commission should be sought, so that everything would be 
ready when Roosevelt reconsidered the matter. In February 1936 the 
Olmsted firm was asked for more detailed guidelines on maintaining 
the grounds. By January 1936 the National Park Service had pre- 
pared revised estimates for the recommended work. 74 

Specifications were made up for the revision of the roads south of the 
White House in March 1937 and were sent to Olmsted Brothers for 
review. 75 Olmsted wired back as follows: 

For historic and aesthetic reasons gravelled surface of 
private roads south of White House should preferably 
adjoin turf without any intervening border of other 
material. I concurred for ease of maintenance in Park 
Service suggestion of metal edging so thin and low as to be 


72. Olmsted Brothers, "Report to the President," 17-21. 

73. Olmsted Brothers, "Report to the President," 20. 

74. Parker, "White House Grounds, Washington, D.C., Report of Conference," Jan. 21, 
1936; Olmsted Brothers to Locke, Feb. 7, 1936; NFS, "Revised Estimate for Planning and 
Execution of Comprehensive Landscape Development for the Grounds of the Executive 
Mansion," Mar. 17, 1936. All in Olmsted Associates Papers. 

75. U S. Department of Agriculture, Bureau of Public Roads, "Bid, Bid Bond, and 
Supplemental Specifications, Project 10A1, National Capital Parks, Roads in White House 
Grounds," (NPS, 1937); Vint to Olmsted, Apr. 24, 1837. Both in Olmsted Associates Papers. 


258 

Part 1: The Evolution of President's Park 



unnoticeable but consider concrete curb as specified very The Olmsted Plan 

undesirable. 74 

The Olmsted firm was also consulted about the junction of the 
bituminous road surface, the concrete sidewalk just south of the 
White House, and two new gates to be constructed on East and West 
Executive Avenues, necessitated by the reconstruction of the south 
roads. 77 When construction began on the roads in July 1937, 

Roosevelt asked the engineers to stake the road just south of the 
White House 18 feet closer than on the plan, because he felt that 
there was too much paved area showing from the south portico. 

Olmsted went to Washington, with the result that this road was 
brought in as the president wished, making it impossible to carry 
out the garden plan shown in figures 6-6 and 6- 7. 78 

At least a partial clearing of the south vista seems to have begun, 
following Olmsted's recommendations in spring 1935. When 
Olmsted returned to Washington in October 1937 to confer about 
the new fence, he photographed the old fence looking north up the 
south axis (figure 6-10). Shortly thereafter the iron fences of 1818 
and 1873 were removed and modern replacements installed. 79 
Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) workers are said to have 
implemented some of the Olmsted Brothers' plan for the White 
House grounds — obviously not the road rebuilding, since that went 
out to bid. Although most of the photographs in a group taken by 
the National Park Service in spring 1939 show the road directly to 
the south of the White House (figure 6-11), there is one view taken 
farther south that shows the weeping beech that Olmsted objected to 
still in place (figure 6-12). 

President Roosevelt enthusiastically supported the plans for new trees 
on the White House grounds, especially the hemlocks by the west 
gate and lilacs in the northeast grounds. Among the commemorative 
trees planted during the Roosevelt administration are three extant 
specimens: (1) a southern magnolia at the east entrance that had 


76. Olmsted to Vint, telegram, Apr. 29, 1937, Olmsted Associates Papers. 

77. "White House Grounds. Report of Conference with Thomas C. Vint in Bar Harbor by 
F. L. Olmsted, May 4, 1937"; W. G. Carnes (acting chief architect) to Olmsted Brothers, 
May 20, 1937, enclosing blue prints of two new gates; Olmsted Brothers to Carnes, May 
27, 1937. Ail in Olmsted Associates Papers. 

78. Finnan to Olmsted, telephone message records, July 23 and July 24, 1937; "White 
House Grounds. Report of Visit by Olmsted, July 29, 1937"; all in Olmsted Associates 
Papers. 

79. Finnan to Olmsted Brothers, Nov. 4, 1937, Olmsted Associates Papers; Seale, The 
President's House, 964. 


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Chapter 6. The Olmsted Plan and Its Influence on President's Park: 1 929-1 948 



The Olmsted Plan 


been planted by President Harding (south side); (2) a small-leaved 
linden just outside the Rose Garden near the entrance to the Oval 
Office (this may be one of the two trees planted in 1937 to 
commemorate the coronation of England's King George VI and 
Queen Elizabeth; the original trees were moved farther south during 
the renovation of the White House in 1949-52); and (3) a white oak 
planted by the Connecticut Girl Scouts near the eastern end of the 
north grounds. 80 

In 1939 Roosevelt initiated another commemorative tree planting, 
this one a memorial to Thomas Jefferson. In answer to an inquiry 
by Roosevelt, Howard Ker (a captain in the Corps of Engineers) 
suggested planting a Japanese pagoda tree within the White House 
grounds, but the president felt very strongly that Jefferson's 
memorial tree should be a native American tree. He also wanted 
something more impressive than a single tree and favored a planting 
that would connect the White House symbolically, and to a certain 
extent physically, with the Jefferson Memorial. President Roosevelt 
revived his earlier idea of a grove of tulip poplar trees, as stated in 
Olmsted's 1935 report, in April 1939 two groups of 10 tulip poplars 
each were planted on either side of the south grounds of the White 
House not far from the east and west boundaries (figure 6-13). The 
western grove was west of the tennis court in the approximate 
location of today's maintenance facility. These tulip poplar trees 
were extant until at least 1947, although they cannot be seen in any 
photographs or aerial views located thus far. In 1971 a former White 
House gardener, Robert Redmond, remembered President Roosevelt 
inspecting the new tulip poplar plantations in a jeep. 81 

In December 1941 the National Christmas Tree was moved to the 
White House grounds at the invitation of President Roosevelt. A May 
21, 1941, memorandum from the president directed that the tree be 
located just inside the south fence. The president and other dignitaries 
would be on the south portico, where Roosevelt would push the 


80. Harry T. Thompson (acting supt.) to Maijorie B. Gratiot, Sept. 19, 1947; map of the 
commemorative trees, various trees, and planting at the Executive Mansion grounds, April 
1956; both at ESF/WHL/NPS. NPS, "The White House Gardens and Grounds." 

81. Howard Ker to Hassett, Jan. 10, 1939; Roosevelt to Ker, memorandum, Jan. 10, 
1939; Ker to Gartside, Mar. 4, 1939; Ker to Roosevelt, Mar. 27, 1939; Ker to Hassett, Apr. 
12, 1939; all at Franklin Delano Roosevelt Library, Hyde Park, New York; copies also in the 
Papers of Harry S. Truman, Post-Presidential Files, Harry S. Truman Library, Independence, 
MO (hereafter cited as HSTL). Thompson to Gratiot (The Richmond News Leader), Sept. 19, 
1947, ESF/WHL/NPS. The last letter states that the tulip poplar groves were still on the 
grounds in 1947. The plan of the tulip poplar planting shown in figure 6-15 appears to be 
located only at the Roosevelt Library, not at the Truman Library or at any repository in 
Washington. See also NPS, 'The President's Garden," 60. McPcck apparently interviewed 
Redmond. 


260 

PART !: TllE EVOLUTION OF PRESIDENT'S PARK 



The Olmsted Plan 


button to light the tree. Two Oriental spruce trees that had been 
originally planted in 1925 were transplanted on the south grounds 
in 1941 and were used in alternating years as the National 
Christmas Tree to lessen damage. The eastern tree is still extant, but 
has not been decorated since 1953. 82 

Within days of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, casual visitors 
were barred from the White House grounds, where they had once 
strolled freely on the north grounds and sometimes on the south 
grounds. Sentry boxes staffed with Secret Service and White House 
guards were set up at every entrance. President and Mrs. Roosevelt 
rejected other measures recommended by the Secret Service, such as 
setting up machine gun emplacements on the roof, camouflaging the 
house, and painting the colonnade windows black. Another wartime 
measure was the closing of East and West Executive Avenues. 
Although World War II reduced landscaping activities at the White 
House, a major architectural project was undertaken in 1942: a new 
East Wing xvas constructed to provide additional offices and recep- 
tion facilities needed under wartime conditions. This required a slight 
reconfiguration of the east pavilion driveway in 1 942. East Executive 
Avenue remained closed for at least a year after the end of the war. 83 
In 1946 President Harry S. Truman revived the yearly receptions on 
the south lawn for convalescent veterans. These garden parties had 
been an annual event some years at the White House, but had been 
discontinued during World War II. M 

In October 1944 the Public Buildings Administration (PBA) of the 
Federal Works Agency prepared a report on proposed landscape im- 
provements for the executive mansion grounds. The reason for this 
study is not entirely clear, since the Olmsted report had been com- 
pleted less than 10 years earlier and the nation was still at war. 
Written by S. E. Sanders, landscape architect, and Lorenzo Winslow, 
architect for the White House, the report proposed a number of 
radical changes to the grounds of the White House, as well as to the 
Ellipse and Lafayette Park. While the Olmsted Brothers' report 
emphasized the need to keep the north-south axis open, the PBA 
report carried this concern to extraordinary lengths. For example, the 
pools and fountains were thought to constitute "psychological 
barriers" to the north-south vista and to violate "the principles of 


82. Information courtesy of Krause, on file at 1115-30-15/Grounds South, 
ESF/WHL/NPS. 

83. “For Privileged Characters," Washington Star, Aug. 25, 1946. 

84. McCullough, Truman, 497-98. 


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Chapter 6. the Olmsted Plan and Its Influence on President's Park: 1929-1948 



The Olmsted Plan 


unity." 85 The report recommended that the north fountain be 
removed altogether and that an informal pool be substituted near the 
southern boundary of the property to replace the south fountain. 
Neither Olmsted nor Hubbard liked the existing "rotten" south foun- 
tain and discussed recommending its removal, in private corre- 
spondence. On reflection, Olmsted felt the display of water in the 
fountain was still agreeable enough to keep it. 86 

The PBA report also proposed new designs, different from those cre- 
ated by Olmsted, for both the east and west gardens. The plan for the 
east garden called for relocating the pool from the center of the 
garden to the east end, near the west wall of the East Wing, an 
arrangement similar to the current one. It also called for placing a 
service entrance tunnel under the current north entrance by the West 
Wing. In addition, a new greenhouse and service yard west of the 
tennis court, near the present maintenance area, were proposed. 
Some of the recommendations by Sanders and Winslow, such as re- 
moving the trees near the south fountain, were entirely consistent 
with the Olmsted Brothers report. The infamous weeping beech 
(misidentified in the PBA report as a weeping birch) was still in 
place. 87 Except for the removal of these trees near the south 
fountain — xvhich may not have been implemented until after the 
renovations to the building during the Truman administration — 
none of these recommendations was carried out. 

In the first years of his presidency, Harry S. Truman, a self-styled 
"architectural nut," fought for major changes to the White House 
proper and the West Wing. Almost immediately upon taking office, 
he asked Lorenzo Winslow to make sketches for an addition to the 
west office wing that would have added 15,000 square feet, 
including an auditorium for press conferences. While this would 
have been useful, much more room was now available for executive 
staff in what had been the State, War, and Navy Building. Just 
before World War II the Pentagon had been built across the river in 
Virginia, and a new building for the State Department was 
constructed at 23rd and C Streets NW.“ 


85. Sanders and Winslow, "Report to the President of the United States on the Proposed 
Landscape Improvements for the Executive Mansion Grounds" (Washington, IX: Public 
Buildings Administration, Federal Works Agency, 1944). 

86. Hubbard to Olmsted, Felt. 25, 1935; Olmsted to Hubbard, telegram, Mar. 3, 1935; 
both in the Olmsted Associates Papers. 

87. Sanders and Winslow, "Report." 

88. Seale, 'The President's House, 1002-16; Seale, The White House, 232-36. For the new 
State Department Building, sec Scott and Lee, Buildings of the District of Columbia, 212. 


262 


Part 1: The Evolution of Presidf.nt's Park 



The Olmsted Plan 


In November 1945 the Commission of Fine Arts had endorsed the 
project for an expanded Executive Office Building in the West Wing, 
and the following month Congress approved an appropriation of 
$1,650,000 for the expansion and for a museum in the East Wing. 
The plan also proposed relocating the main entrance of the West 
Wing from the north grounds to West Executive Avenue, placing a 
service road under the north grounds along the West Wing to West 
Executive Avenue, and returning the former West Wing entrance to 
lawn area. Site preparation, including the demolition of the iron 
fence along West Executive Avenue, was well underway when a 
groundswell of opposition arose from the public, the American 
Institute of Architects, and some members of Congress. In January 
1946 the funding needed for the addition was deleted from the 
appropriation passed earlier, By 1948, possibly in connection with 
preparations for the addition to the West Wing, Eric Gugler's sunken 
garden court fountain was removed and the court was roofed over 
and sodded. 89 

In 1947 modifications were made around the east entrance. The 
fountain, the gate piers, and the central steps, which had been 
reduced in 1902, were removed. A new entrance was built. A new 
fence matching the one along Pennsylvania Avenue was installed. 90 

That same year the White House gardener, Robert Redmond, wrote a 
memorandum describing the appearance of the west and east 
gardens and a garden that he called the Cloisters, now known as the 
magnolia patio, and described as a flagstone area beneath the Jackson 
magnolias. At this time the west garden contained 500 rose bushes 
and was surrounded by 4-foot-high hedges of California privet. The 
layout, which still included the President's Walk, sounds similar to 
that designed by Edith Axson Wilson and George Burnap, except that 
no sculpture of Pan is mentioned. This garden must have been 
damaged in the course of construction of the expanded West Wing, 
but it seems to have been put back in much the same configuration 
as before. The layout of the east garden was still that designed by 
Beatrix Farrand. The pool was described specifically: it was 24 feet 
long, 12 feet wide, and 3 feet deep, and it was planted in season with 
four tender water lilies, one at each corner, each in a different color: 
white, pink, yellow and blue. Redmond also mentioned the "ornate 
antique sandstone seats," which appear in early photographs of this 


89. Seale, The President's House, 11X12-16; Scale, The White House, 232-36. For the 
removal of the fountain, see "While Mouse Fountains" file, OC/WH. 

90. Information courtesy of Krause (ESF/WHL/NPS), June 15, 2000. 


263 

Chapter 6, The Olnisted Plan and Us Influence on President's Park: 1929-1948 



Lafayette Park garden and at least some of which are still in place in the Jacqueline 

Kennedy Garden. 9 ' 

An aerial photograph of the south grounds of the White House taken 
in January 1948 shows that little progress had been made in open- 
ing up the north-south vista in accordance with the recommen- 
dations of the Olmsted Brothers' report {figure 6-14). The trees near 
the fountain are still visible. The tulip poplar groves may be the 
smaller trees that appear considerably farther to the west and east of 
the fountain near the boundary plantations. 

In 1948, over the objections of the Commission of Fine Arts, 
President Truman succeeded in adding the "Truman balcony" to the 
south portico of the White House proper. This was the greatest 
exterior change that had been made to the main building since 
Andrew Jackson constructed the north portico in 1829-31. 92 


Lafayette Park 

Lafayette Square, renamed Lafayette Park in 1933, underwent few 
major modifications in the early 1930s. In 1930-31 one drinking 
fountain was replaced with one having an ornamental concrete 
pedestal. 93 In 1931-32 the exterior and interior of the lodge were 
painted. 94 

In 1932 the American Forestry Association published a brochure 
with a foldout map showing all the trees in Lafayette Park (figure 6- 
15). American elms grew along all four sides; a few English elms 
{remnants of an early planting along the north and south sides) sur- 
vived principally in the northeast corner. A deodar cedar (related to 
the cedar of Lebanon), a cryptomeria, a Royal Empress tree, a bald 
cypress, a massive purple beech, southern magnolias (along the walk 
north of the Jackson statue), a large English yew, an English holly, 
and a white fringe tree were among the trees identified. 95 The 1932 


91. NFS, "The White House Garden," by Robert Redmond, revised Feb. 19, 1947, 
ESF/WHL/NPS. 

92. Seale, The President's House, 1002-16; Seale, The White House , 232-6. 

93. Annual Report, Director of Public Buildings and Public Parks, 1931, 67. 

94. Annual Report, Director of Public Buildings and Public Parks, 1932, 22. Lafayette Park 
had been designated as Reservation 10, instead of as part of Reservation ], since at least 
1 8K4; Annua! Report, Chief of Engineers, 1885, 2504-5, 2510. 

95. Frederick V. Coville and O. M. Freeman, Trees and Shrubs of Lafayette Park 
(Washington, DC: The American Forestry Association, 1932). It is conceivable that the 


264 

Part I: The Evolution of President's Park 



plan is important because the park would be modified in the late Lafayette Park 

1930s. Figure 6-16 is a montage of photographs included in the 

pamphlet. 

Franklin D. Roosevelt sought to remove the Jackson statue from 
Lafayette Park. His comments indicate that he was not particularly 
pleased with it from an aesthetic perspective. However, Charles 
Moore, chairman of the Commission of Fine Arts, argued for keeping 
the statue because it was the first equestrian monument designed 
and erected in the United States and it was an outstanding achieve- 
ment in American art. He also argued that it would be difficult to 
find another satisfactory place for the statue. He strongly opposed 
the switch with the George Washington statue because in his estima- 
tion the latter was “one of the worst in the United States." 96 
Proposals to relocate the statue continued. In 1 944 the Federal Works 
Agency recommended its removal to open the view of the White 
House from the 16th street. Uke those before it, this recommenda- 
tion resulted in no action. 97 

In 1936-37 Lafayette Park was “reconditioned" as part of a Works 
Progress Administration (WPA) project. The 1936 plan {figure 6-1 7), 
which was derived from a 1921 Commission of Fine Arts proposal, 
simplified and regularized the Downing plan by making the inner 
and outer path systems equal in width and importance. It also 
eliminated the two short paths that led to the urns east and west of 
the Jackson statue and the flower beds within the paths of 
Downing's outer system. All paths were resurfaced with concrete. 

The urns were relocated close to the east and west entrances to the 
park. A grass panel was installed north of the Jackson statue; it was 
equal in width to the one south of the sculpture. Twenty-six gas 
lights were removed. Although these changes were not radical and 
were intended to "enhance" the Downing plan, the WPA recondi- 
tioning had the effect of suppressing the park's romantic flavor, 
making it appear more symmetrical as well as more hard-edged 
because of all the concrete. There was extensive photographic 
documentation of the project, and it was also covered in the press. In 
the press and in letters written to public officials and to First Lady 
Eleanor Roosevelt there was considerable criticism of the increase in 


English elms were remnants of a planting directed by Charles Bulfinch. English elms were 
originally planted along the malls of Boston Common. 

96. Kerr, "Statue of General Andrew Jackson," 50-51 . 

97. Kerr, "Statue of General Andrew Jackson," 51-52. 


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Chapter 6. The Olmsted Plan and Its Influence on President's Park: 1 929-1 948 



President's Park South 


concrete surfaces and especially of the death of trees that occurred as 
a result of an unexpected reversal in underground water conditions. 98 


In September 1939 President Roosevelt reactivated a congressional act 
passed during the Hoover administration to allow the government to 
purchase the private property around Lafayette Park, but no further 
action took place until the Eisenhower administration. 99 

Apparently during or after World War II, Columbian Family lighting 
fixtures were installed on Pennsylvania Avenue around Lafayette 
Park and on 15th Street by the Treasury Building and Sherman 
Plaza. These fixtures have two globes like the Bacon-style, but they 
are ornamentally different, with an acanthus leaf rather than an 
acorn finial (see figure 9-7). 100 


President's Park South 

No major projects were undertaken during this period for the Ellipse. 
On December 24, 1929, probably only hours before the Executive 
Office Building (West Wing) burned. President Hoover lighted the 
Community Christmas Tree in Sherman Plaza, with the usual 
ceremonies.' 01 The Community Christmas Tree was again placed in 
Sherman Plaza in 1930.' 02 The tree remained in Sherman Plaza 
through 1933, when it was moved to Lafayette Park. It went back to 
the Ellipse in 1939 and 1940. Between 1941 and 1953, because of 
wartime and postwar security concerns, the tree was moved to the 
south grounds of the White House. At President Roosevelt's insis- 
tence, it was placed just inside the fence so that security could be 


98. NPS, "Lafayette Park," 28, 40—48. Several of the construction photographs are used to 
illustrale this report, but they do not reproduce well. See also "Lafayette Park 
Reconditioning Completion is Expected," 77ie Evening Star, Washington, Apr. 22, 1936, 1, 
and "Changes in Park Landscape Held Factor in Death of Trees," Washington Post, Aug. 13, 
1 937. The dippings and considerable correspondence arc on file at E5F/WHL/NPS. 

99. Seale, The President's House, 979. 

1 00. Information courtesy of Sue Kohler (historian. Commission of Fine Arts) and David 
Krause (ESF/WHiyNPS). 

101. In 1929-30 there were four baseball diamonds on the Ellipse, with 14,5 70 players 
participating in the game and more than 89,000 spectators. Annual Report, Director of 
Public Buildings and Public Parks, 1 930, 50, 56. 

102. In 1930-31 just under 15,000 people played baseball on the four diamonds, with 
78,400 spectators. Annual Report, Director of Public Buildings and Public Parks, 1931, 50, 58. 


266 

Part 1: The Evolution of President's Park 



maintained, but the general public could still see the tree. In 1954 it 
was moved to the Ellipse, where it has remained. 103 

On May 21, 1931, Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. wrote a short report, 
or notes, on the surroundings of the Sherman statue as they related 
to plans for the area north of the Department of Commerce Building. 
Olmsted recommended realigning E Street between 14th and 15th 
Streets and adjusting both the topography and the planting on the 
ground surrounding the statue. He observed that the ground sloped 
down "with unpleasant rapidity" from the monument and that the 
planting was "in general scrappy, confused, and trivial; failing to 
produce masses having any effective relations of composition with 
the monument."’ 04 His final recommendation was that the entire 
area between the base of the monument and the surrounding streets 
be redesigned. 103 

E Street was extended, and some of Olmsted's recommendations were 
carried out in 1933. It appears that E Street was not extended 
completely to 17th Street until 1940. The 1939^10 project may have 
been a collaborative effort between the National Park Service and the 
District of Columbia Highways Division. 106 

In spring 1942 plans were made to erect temporary barracks for the 
special troops assigned to protect the president, the White House, and 
the Treasury. Initially the soldiers were quartered in the sub- 
basement of the Treasury Building. When the warm weather forced 
them to move out, a number of sites were considered, including the 
grounds of the Washington Monument and Sherman Plaza. (The 
open area of the Ellipse does not seem to have been seriously 
considered). By 1942 a site below the First Division Monument was 
selected, bounded by State Place, South Executive Avenue, E Street, 
and 1 7th Street. The building was a single barracks across most of 
the site, with three wings extending north-south, and a detached 


103. Scale, The President's House, 974-75; Goodwin, No Ordinary Time, 299; file on 
"Sherman Plaza, Christmas Trees," ESF/WHiyNPS. 

104. Olmsted, "Surroundings of Sherman Monument in Relation to Plans for Area North 
of Department of Commerce Building," May 21, 1931, p. 1, 1430/Sherman, box 17 of 31, 
ESF/WHL/NPS. 

1 05. Olmsted, "Surroundings of Sherman Monument," 2. 

106. For the grounds of the Sherman Plaza, see J. A. Woodruff (Executive and Disbursing 
Officer) to Maj. John C. C.otwals (Engineer Commissioner of the District), July 31, 1933, 
and Gotwals to Woodruff, Aug. 3, 1933, with sketches of streets, ESF/WHl/NPS. The 
Cartographic and Architectural Branch of the National Archives has seven drawing sheets 
labeled "Sherman Park and E Street Extension," dated August 1933-January 1934, which 
have not been examined for this study but which may show this change. These drawings 
include 23-095, 23-080-1/2, 23-089, and 23-087, RG 79, NA, College Park, MD. 


President's Park South 


267 

Chapter 6. The Olmsted Plan and Its Influence on President's Park: 1929-1 948 



President's Park South 


268 

PART I: T1IE EVOLUTION OF PRESIDENT'S PARK 


guardhouse (figure 6-18). The War Department classified the struc- 
ture as surplus on December 31, 1946, but the building remained 
until 1954. In 1947 plans were made to replant the site with 17 
small-leaved lindens after the removal of the barracks. An aerial 
photograph of the Ellipse and the White House grounds taken 
sometime between 1948 and 1954 (figure 6-19) shows the southern 
wing of the barracks to the left, as well as three of the four baseball 
diamonds on the Ellipse. 107 

Two new monuments were added to the Ellipse in 1936. A granite 
Memorial to the Patentees of the District of Columbia, donated by 
the Daughters of the American Revolution, was erected on 15th 
Street about halfway between E Street and Constitution Avenue. Carl 
Mose was the sculptor and Delos Smith the architect. The Memorial 
to the Dead of the Second Division of the United States Army in 
World War I was dedicated on Constitution Avenue at 1 7th Street. It 
was sculpted by James Earle Fraser (the sculptor of the Alexander 
Hamilton statue south of the Treasury Building); John Russell Pope 
was the architect. For this monument 250 tons of granite form a 
giant portal enclosing a gilded 18-foot sword, with the division's 
insignia carved on the hilt. Later additions honor the dead from 
World War II and the Korean Conflict. 108 

As early as 1929 William Adams Delano and U. S. Grant III discussed 
relocating the Bulfinch gatehouses from Constitution Avenue at 15th 
and 17th Streets. In 1935 the chairman of the Fine Arts Commission 
proposed repairing and reorienting them to the south, but he was 
unable to secure funds. An attempt in 1937 by the National Park 
Service also failed. NPS architect Thomas T. Waterman prepared 
drawings in 1938 that proposed relocating the gatehouses and piers 
to the 16th Street entrance on Constitution Avenue to frame the 
view of the White House. The National Park Service used WPA funds 
to restore the gatehouses in 1938-39 but did not reorient them. The 
final report strongly recommended that they be moved at some 
future date to a more central location so that their original relation- 
ship to the Capitol would be more apparent. 109 


107. The correspondence on the barracks includes the following: sec. of the treasury to 
Brig. Gen. Albert L. Cox, Apr. 1, 1942; D. A. Phelan (major, Corps of Engineers) to National 
Park Service, May 27, 1942; War Department to Public Works Administration, Jan. 1947; 
George W. Harding {chief. Horticulture and Maintenance Div.) to Tile, Feb. 4, 1947; and 
War Department to Irvin C. Root (supt., NCP), June 23, 1947; all in ESF/WHI/NPS. The 
photograph in figure 6-20 is annotated "Barracks removed 1954." 

10B. Goode, The Outdoor Sculpture, 137. 

109. Information provided by Krause, on file at 1 1 15-20/Colonial Furniture, 
ESF/WHL/NPS; NPS, "President's Park South," 40-42. 



President's Parte South 


Between 1 929 and 1 948 great changes took place in the Mall and the 
Federal Triangle, which to a certain extent finally fulfilled some of 
the recommendations of the 1901 McMillan plan. Although these 
changes occurred outside the boundaries of President's Park, some of 
them greatly affected the immediate surroundings of the Ellipse. 

In 1910 Congress had approved plans for new Justice, Commerce 
and Labor, and State Department buildings to be constructed between 
14th and 15th Streets and Pennsylvania and Constitution Avenues. A 
design competition for these buildings was held the same year, the 
Commission of Fine Arts reviewed the winning designs, but 
construction was deferred. 110 In 1926 Congress passed the Public 
Buildings Act, which was strongly supported by Secretary of Com- 
merce Herbert Hoover. This act provided $50 million for public 
buildings in the District of Columbia, half of which was allocated for 
buildings in the Federal Triangle. That same year construction finally 
began on the Commerce Department Building, and by this time the 
entire block had been allocated to the Commerce Department. When 
completed in 1932, the Commerce Building was the largest govern- 
ment structure in the country, with 8 miles of corridors and floor 
space measured in acres (37) rather than square feet. 111 

In 1934 the old Botanic Garden greenhouses were finally removed 
from the Mall, as was the original building of the Department of 
Agriculture. This allowed for the beginning of an implementation 
strategy for the McMillan plan for the Mall. It began in a modest 
way with parallel rows of elms planted along either side of the 
Mall. 112 Aerial photography of central Washington from 1938 shows 
dense planting around the Ellipse of old American elms, which would 
be decimated by Dutch elm disease in the following years. 113 


110. Don Barber, Arnold Brunner, and York and Sawyer won the competition. Reps, 
Monumental Washington, 167—68. 

111. Scott and Lee, Buildings of the District of Columbia, 1 71-72. Sec also Guthcim, Worthy of 
the Nation, 172, 176-80. 

112. Reps, Monumental Washington, 173. 

113. Also visible is the great mass of the Interior Building on C Street between 18th and 
19th Streets, built in 1935-36 from designs by VVaddy B. Wood (Scott and Lee, Buildings 
of the District of Columbia, 206-10, 216) and the row of museums and institutional 
buildings along 17th Street: the Corcoran Gallery of Art (built between 1897 and 1928; 
Ernest Flagg, Waddy B. Wood, and Charles Adams Platt, architects), the American Red 
Cross (built between 1915 and 1917; Trowbridge and Livingston, architects), the 
Daughters of the American Revolution Memorial Continental Hall (built between 1910 
and 1929; Edward Pearce Casey, Marsh and Peter, and John Russell Pope, architects), and 
the Organization of American States Building (built between 1908 and 1910; Albert 
Kelsey and Paul Philippe Crct, architects; addition built in 1948, Harbeson, Hough, 
Livingston, and Larson, architects). 


269 

Chapter 6. The Olmsted Plan and Its Influence on President's Park: 1929-1948 



President's Park South 


The issue of landscaping the grounds of the Washington Monument 
was reexamined between 1929 and 1948. In 1928 Congress author- 
ized the expenditure of $5 million to carry out the McMillan plan, 
which had proposed an on-axis landscape setting to compensate for 
the monument's off-axis location (see page 182). Two years later an 
advisory committee was established to determine if the plan was 
feasible. After studying the plans and conducting test borings, the 
committee reported that unless the monument could be underpinned 
to bedrock or dismantled and rebuilt on a new foundation extending 
to bedrock, the plan could not be carried out. At the same time, the 
committee considered two other plans for the monument grounds, a 
formal scheme by the architect William A. Delano and a simpler one 
by Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. and Henry Vincent Hubbard. In 
November 1932 the Commission of Fine Arts and the National 
Capital Park and Planning Commission recommended that no work 
at all be done on landscaping the monument grounds until other 
essential components of the Washington plan were completed. They 
suggested that it would be better to wait 25 years rather than to 
adopt a compromise plan. By the 1990s little had changed in the 
vicinity of the Washington Monument. 1 14 

Another development that affected President's Park was the con- 
struction of the Jefferson Memorial at the far end of the south vista 
from the White House. John Russell Pope prepared the first design 
for the memorial in 1937, but the Pantheon style design failed to win 
the approval of the Commission of Fine Arts, which had envisioned 
something more like the Lincoln Memorial. Pope died in the summer 
of 1937, and a revised design was prepared in 1938, but that design 
also aroused opposition. By the late 1930s many noted architects felt 
that Pope's classical design was too traditional, among them Frank 
Lloyd Wright. Eventually, however, the original Pantheon-style 
monument was built because President Roosevelt favored it. It was 
completed in 1943. 115 

In 1944, one year after the completion of the Jefferson Memorial, a 
report by Sanders and Winslow strongly recommended the removal 


114. Reps, Monumental Washington, 176-77. See also David C. 5trcatfidd, 'The Olmsteds 
and the Landscape of the Mall," in The Mall in Washington, 130-35. 

115. Reps, Monumental Washington , 178-86; Scott and Lee, Buildings of the District of 
Columbia, 102-3; Gutheim, Worthy of the Nation, 219-20. Scott and Lee point out that the 
Jefferson Memorial not only is modeled after the Roman Pantheon but that it resembles 
William Kent's Temple of Ancient Virtue, constructed in 1734 in the garden at Stowe, 
Buckinghamshire, England, which Jefferson had visited with John Adams on their garden 
tour of 1785. Eggers and Higgins, Pope's successor firm, prepared the revised design. See 
also Ricliard Guy Wilson, "High Noon on the Mall: Modernism Versus Traditionalism, 
1910-1970," in The Mall in Washington, 152-53. 


270 

Part i: The Evolution or President's Park. 



of trees along the vista between the White House and the Jefferson 
Memorial. These trees were located partly in the Ellipse, but mostly 
on the grounds of the Washington Monument, near the northern 
edge of the Tidal Basin (figure 6-20). 116 It is not known when the 
trees were planted, but the section on the Washington Monument 
grounds is visible in aerial photographs as early as the 1920s. 117 The 
removal of these trees is one of the few recommendations of the 
1944 report that was carried out, but it is unclear when, possibly 
during the Truman administration. 


The Grounds of the Treasury Building 

In 1927 Congress authorized a statue of Albert Gallatin, Jefferson's 
secretary of the treasury, to be placed in the Treasury Building's 
north plaza (see figure 9-21). By 1934 funds were available to start 
preparing the site. In 1939 the large fountain installed in the plaza in 
the late 1800s (figure 4-12) was removed, and the level of the 
sunken terrace was raised to ensure that the new sculpture would be 
visible. James Earle Fraser, who sculpted the Alexander Hamilton 
statue, was again hired. The architect of the pedestal, which was 
erected in 1940, is not known. World War II broke out just as Fraser 
completed the design of the statue and was ready to cast it in bronze. 
The statue was cast and installed after the war and dedicated on 
October 15, 1947. 118 

In 1939 Anne Baker, a consulting landscape architect, designed two 
rose gardens for the south lawn of the Treasury. She used red roses 
exclusively, at the request of Secretary of the Treasury Henry 
Morgenthau Jr. The rose beds apparently were completed in 1939. A 
boxwood hedge on the south boundary was retained but developed 
boxwood-leaf miner. Additional work, such as installing groups of 
new boxwood plants in the corners of the gardens, was carried out 
in 1940. Recommendations were also made to plant more magnolias 
west of the Treasury Building. Rather than replacing the heavily 


116. Sanders and Winslow, "Report." 

11 7. Longstreth, The Mall in Washington, plates CVf and CXJI, 

118. Goode, The Outdoor Sculpture, 370. See also "Summary of Research: Gallatin Statue," 
Oct. 8, 1994; undated report (description and condition); and photographs, all at OC/ 
Treasury. 


The Grounds of the Treasury 
Building 


271 

Chapter 6. The Olmsted Plan and Its Influence on President's Park: 1929-1948 



Summary 


flowering tree magnolias in kind, southern magnolias were sug- 
gested, since their size would be more appropriate to the building. 119 


The Grounds of the State, War, and Navy Building 

In 1930 Waddy B. Wood, a Washington architect, was commis- 
sioned to remodel the State, War, and Navy Building in the image of 
the Treasury. Even though Congress appropriated $3 million for the 
"refacing and refinishing of the exterior, and for such remodeling 
and reconstructing and changes in approaches as will make it har- 
monize generally in architectural appearance with the Treasury 
Building/' contract disputes and the financial realities of the Depres- 
sion prevented the project from being realized. 120 

Relatively little work was done on landscaping around the State, 
War, and Navy Building in the 1930s and 1940s. An aerial photo- 
graph taken from the south in August 1931 (figure 6-21) shows the 
First Division Monument and the south plaza of the State, War, and 
Navy Building, the latter with only a few trees. 

In 1947 the piers for the gates on West Executive Avenue were 
removed by an act from Congress. 121 


Summary 

During this period a major concept developed by Frederick Law 
Olmsted Jr. was adopted that has guided landscape treatment in 
President's Park to this day — preserve the historic aspects of the 
landscape, but at the same time adapt them to current needs. The 
Olmsted plan is a model for preserving historic landscape features 
while allowing adaptation to modern needs and conditions. Olmsted 


1 19. Baker's design was modified by Henry M. Boucher. Director of procurement to sec. 
of the treasury, memorandum. May 2, 1939; J. D. Fox (supt. of Treasury Buildings) to 
McReynolds (admin, asst, to the secretary), memorandum. May 17, 1939; "Specifications 
for Boxwood to be Planted at Treasury Rose Garden," n.d.; Boucher to Thorn, memo- 
randum, Mar. 12, 1940; Fox to W. E. Reynolds (comm., PBA), Aug. 21, 1939; Boucher to 
Fox, memorandum, Mar. B, 1940; Fox to Charles A. Peters Jr. (buildings manager, PBA), 
Sept. 12, 1940; L. M. Endres (acting buildings manager, PBA) to Fox, Aug. 16, 1940; and 
Boucher, memorandum on the Treasury rose garden, June 4, 1940; all at the Office of the 
Curator, Treasury. 

1 20. Dolkart, The Old Executive Office Building. 

121 . Information courtesy of Krause (ESF/WH1/NP5), June 15, 2000. 


272 

Part I: The Evolution of President's Park 



Summary 


was also highly critical of the lack of residential character in the 
grounds; he felt that the opportunity existed to develop parts of the 
grounds for domestic uses. However, not all of Olmsted's recom- 
mendations, such as the redesign of the east and west gardens, were 
carried out. 

Presidential participation in the evolution of the landscape continued 
during the Franklin Delano Roosevelt presidency. Roosevelt was an 
inveterate amateur architect and became personally involved in 
several landscape projects. He planned for new trees, such as the 
hemlocks by the west gate and the lilac in the northeast grounds. He 
was also the driving force behind the tulip poplar commemorative 
planting in honor of Thomas Jefferson. 

In 1937 the National Park Service, using the resources of the Works 
Progress Administration, renovated and partially redesigned Lafa- 
yette Park. The plan was derived from a previous proposal, which 
simplified and regularized the Downing design by making the inner 
and outer path systems equal in width and importance. The walks 
were resurfaced in concrete, and the urns were relocated close to the 
east and west entrances. In general the public opposed the loss of the 
romantic flavor that had characterized the site and was highly criti- 
cal of the damage to the trees that resulted from changes in under- 
ground water conditions. 

At the Treasury Building the large fountain in the north plaza was 
removed and a sculpture of Albert Gallatin by James Earle Fraser put 
in its place. In 1939-40 Anne Baker designed two new rose gardens 
for the south plaza of the Treasury Building. 

Two new monuments were added to the Ellipse in 1936: the granite 
memorial to the Patentees of the District of Columbia by Carl Mose 
and the Second Division Memorial, designed by James Earle Fraser 
and John Russell Pope. E Street was extended through to 1 7th Street 
in 1940. In 1942 barracks were erected just south of the First 
Division Monument for the special troops assigned to protect the 
president. There appear to have been no major landscape changes to 
the grounds of the State, War, and Navy Building during this period. 

President’s Park continued to attract talented architects and landscape 
architects. Eric Gugler, Thomas C. Vint, William A. Delano, John 
Russell Pope, and Lorenzo Winslow, among others, joined Frederick 
Law Olmsted Jr-, in providing their expertise, ability, and imagination 
to development proposals. World War 11 delayed the implementation 
of their plans, but some of their suggestions have become the 
guiding principles for decisions regarding the landscape of the site. 


273 

Chapter 6. The Olmsted Plan and Us Influence on President's Park: 1929-1 948 





Figure 6 I First Lady Lou Hoover Planting <1 Cedar from Ferry Farm, Boyhood Home of George Washington 
Photograph, Maali 1932. United Press International. 


275 

Chapter b. The Olmsted Plan and Its Influence on President's Park: 1929-1948 






Figure 6-2: Expanded West Wing uf the While House. Photograph, 1935. Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs 
Division, Theodore Horydczak Collection. 



276 

Part 1: The Evolution of President's Park 








AVtNVt 


PtNNSri VANIA 


EXECUTIVE MANSION GROUNDS 
WASHINGTON DC 

GENERAL SURVEY 


Figure 6 3 : Executive Mansion Grounds, Washington D.C.: General Survey Showing Existing Conditions as 
of January I, 1935. Olmsted Brothers, March 1935. National 1’ark Service, Frederick Law Olmsted 
National Historic Site. 


Chapter 6 the Olmsted Plan and Its Influence on President's Park: 1929-1948 










w Jk-'jiC 


Figure 6-4: East Entrance. Clarence Howard (photograph), November 1934 National Park Service, Frederick Law Olmsted 
National Historic Site. 



278 

Part I The EvouiTION of Presotestt's Park 




279 

Chapter 6 . The Olmsted Plan and Its Influence on President's Park / 929-/948 






o 

O , 

•ATt UtM 

O 



Figure 6-6: Executive Mansion Grounds: Proposed Improvements about Executive Mansion Olmsted Brothers, October 1935. 
National Park Service, Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site. 


280 

Part I. The Evolution of President’s Park 






Figure 6-7: Executive Mansion Grounds, Washington, U.C., General Plan for Improvements. Olmsted 
Brothers, October 1935. National Park Service, Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site. 


281 

Chapter 6. The lllmsteil Plan and Its Influence on President's Park 1929 1948 






~xzz\~n vr-. mansion scouncs 

WASHINGTON DC 

GENERAL PLAN FOR IMPROVEMENTS 

•CALC 

•OOTII 1MTMU UU<»KAH AAtWTtCn 

MCinum MAM OCTO*l» . IM« 


tn ah no i 


V 'A41 t *41# 












I 

! 

i) 

i 

' 

J m HA 

* .v r 


Figure 6-8: View from South Lawn below Fountain (current condition). Frederick L. Olmsted Jr. (photograph), October 19.15. 
National Park Service, Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site. 


282 

Part I: The Evolution of President's Park 










Figure 6 10: From North Curb of Ellipse on South As is (Top of New Fence as Designed Would Come about to Top Floor Windows as 
Seen from Here). Frederick L. Olmsted Jr. (photograph), October 1937. National Park Service, Frederick Law Olmsted National 
Historic Site. 


284 

Part I: l eu Evolution or Prlsiolnt's Parr 





285 

Chapter 6. The Olmsted flan and Its Influence an President's Park: 1929-1948 









Figure 6- 13: Plan for the Location of Roosevelt liilip Tree Groves on the South Grounds. National Park Service, 
December 12, 1934. Franklin Delano Roosevelt Presidential Library. 



287 

Chapter 6 . The Olmsted Plan and Its Influence on President's Park: 1929-1948 



Figure 6 14: Aerial Photograph of the White House and South Grounds. Abbie Rowe (photograph), January 1948. National 
Archives, Records of the National Park Service, Record Group 79. 


288 

Part I: Tin Evolution or President's Park 






JACKSON PLACE 



289 

Chapter 6. The Olmsted Plan and Its Influence on President's Park 1929-1948 


| Pennsylvania avenue 1 ^ A WASHINGT0KDC I93V Pennsylvania avenue 

Figure 6-15: Trees and Shrubs of Lafayette Park, Washington P C., 1932. Plan. National Park Service, Office of White House 
liaison 


MADISON PLACE 








Figure 6- 1 6: Montage of Five Photographs of Lafayette Park. From Trees and Shrubs of Lafayette Park, 
Washington P C., 1932. National Park Service, Office of White House Liaison. 



290 


Part I: The Evolution of President's Park 



Figure 6-1 7: Tires and Shrubs of Lafayette Square. National Park Service (plan), January 1936. National Archives, Still 
Pictures. Records of the National Park Service, Record Group 79. 


291 

Chapter 6. the Olmsted Plan and Its Influence on President's Park: 1929-1948 








Figure 6-18: Special Troops Barracks Layout Plan. U.S. Engineer Office, ca. 1942. National Park Service. Office of White 
House Liaison. 


292 

Part 1: The Evolution of President 's Park 








Figure 6-19: Aerial View of the Ellipse and White House Grounds. Photograph, ca 1948-54. Library of Congress, Prints and 
Photographs Division, Theodore Horydezak Collection. 



293 

Chapter 6. The Olmsted Plan ami Its Influence on President's Park. I V29- 1 'MS 





Figure 6-20: Existing TLees Encroaching on White House — Jefferson Memorial Vista S. E. Sanders and Lorenzo Winslow, 1944 
From Report to the President of the United States on the Proposed Landscape Improvements for the Executive Mansion Grounds. 
National Park Service. Office of White House Liaison. 


294 

Part I: The Evolution or President's Park 





295 

Chapter 6 . the Olmsted Plan and Its Influence an President's Kirk: 1929-1948 








Chapter 7. President's Park and the 
Influence of the Warnecke Plan: 
1948-1969 


D uring this period presidents as well as first ladies displayed 
great interest in the landscape of President's Park. President 
Harry S. Truman paid particular attention to the grounds 
and referred frequently to the Olmsted report, and several 
recommendations to clear the north-south axial view were imple- 
mented while Truman was president. The massive renovations to the 
White House during the Truman administration damaged the land- 
scape in the immediate vicinity of the building, but it was repaired 
soon after the work on the building was completed in 1952.’ 

President and Mrs. John F. Kennedy also consulted the Olmsted 
report and carried out elements of the proposal in regards to privacy 
while at the same time making an effort to keep the south vista 
open. First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy's level of involvement in matters 
pertaining to the White House, the grounds, and the Lafayette Park 
neighborhood was almost unprecedented. Mrs. Lyndon B. Johnson 
was equally active in conservation issues. Starting in 1965 Mrs. 
Johnson pursued a program of landscape beautification for 
Washington, D.C., which inspired similar efforts in cities across the 
country. 

The east and west gardens of the White House were redesigned twice 
during this period. The first time was shortly after completion of the 
White House restoration. The second time Rachel Lambert Mellon 
(Mrs. Paul Mellon), a friend of the Kennedy family, redesigned both 
gardens. The new Rose Garden was completed in 1962, and the east 
garden in 1964. In 1965 the east garden was dedicated as the 
Jacqueline Kennedy Garden. 2 In 1969 a Children's Garden was 


1. An important development for this site look place in 1952 when Congress 
established the National Capital Planning Commission to separate park management 
from city planning. Two early members of the commission were Frederick Law Olmsted 
Jr., then in his eighties, and Charles Eliot II, nephew and namesake of the Charles Eliot 
who had been a partner of Frederick Law Olmsted Sr. and a distinguished landscape 
architect and city planner in his own right. Pamela Scott, "Two Centuries of Architectural 
Practice in Washington," in Scott and Lee, Buildings of the District of Columbia, 58-59. 

2. The garden's formal dedication was delayed until April 22, 1965, due to the death 
of former President Herbert Hoover in October 1964. 


297 

Chapter 7. President’s Park and the Influence of the Warnecke Plan: 1948-1969 



developed for the Johnson grandchildren in a secluded spot between 
the lower south lawn and the west fence, near the tennis court. 

In the late 1950s controversy arose over a proposal to replace the 
small-scale residential buildings around Lafayette Park with a new 
executive office building on Jackson Place and a new court of claims 
on Madison Place. The direct intervention of both President and Mrs. 
Kennedy solved the problem as a plan by John Carl Warnecke was 
selected. The plan retained the residential scale of Jackson and 
Madison Places and placed the new buildings behind them. John Carl 
Warnecke & Associates also designed the renovation for Lafayette 
Square in 1969-70. 

The Boy Scout Memorial and the Haupt fountains were installed in 
the Ellipse in 1964 and 1968 respectively. New wings were added for 
both the First Division Monument (1957) and the Second Division 
Memorial (1962). In 1954 the National Christmas Tree was moved 
to the Ellipse, and in that same year the Christmas Pageant of Peace 
started in the vicinity of the tree. 

During the Kennedy and Johnson administrations the Pennsylvania 
Avenue Development Council (subsequently the Pennsylvania 
Avenue Development Corporation) formulated a plan that would be 
partially implemented in the 1970s and 1980s. The 1964 plan 
recommended a unified approach to the redesign of Pennsylvania 
Avenue between the Capitol and the White House. It proposed to 
return to the general principles of the McMillan plan, such as restor- 
ing the axial relationship between the Capitol, the Washington 
Monument, and the White House, and reverting to the monumental 
simplicity and dignity that had been the essential feature of the 
L'Enfant design. 

Another important feature was a recommendation for a new square 
extending from approximately 13th to 15th Streets and terminating 
in a monumental new approach to the Treasury and White House 
grounds. If implemented, it would have included a wall and an 
imposing gate to serve as a formal entrance to the "Executive 
Precinct," a solution that had been recommended in the 1920s and 
that would have forced the relocation of the Sherman statue. The 
square was never developed because it would have required the 
demolition of historic buildings and the destruction of historic open 
space relationships. 

Leading designers continued to participate in projects affecting 
President's Park. Lorenzo Winslow made sketches for expanding the 
Executive Office Building (West Wing) and was appointed architect 
of the White House reconstruction (1950-1952). John Carl 


298 

Part I: The Evolution of President's Park 



The Grounds of the White House 


Warnecke worked to remodel Lafayette Park and to restore the 
historical ambience of Lafayette Square. Edward Durell Stone Jr. 
designed the Children's Garden. The architectural firm of Skidmore, 
Owings & Merrill prepared an ambitious plan for Pennsylvania 
Avenue and the National Mall that also included the Ellipse. 

When John F. Kennedy became president, special landscape features 
were incorporated to provide his young children some level of free- 
dom from the public eye. The construction of the Children's Garden 
in 1969 at the end of the Lyndon Johnson administration formally 
recognized this need. The tradition of developing recreational features 
suited to the personal interests of the president and his family 
became firmly established. 


The Grounds of the White House 

Reconstruction of the interior of the White House to correct 
structural deficiencies began in January 1950 and was completed on 
March 27, 1952. 3 While the work was in progress, most of the 
south grounds of the White House became a construction site, with 
temporary buildings covering much of the lawn down almost to the 
transverse road (figure 7-1). Although the Commission on Renova- 
tion of the Executive Mansion tried to protect the trees and shrubs 
near the building, much plant material was lost, and the east garden 
was obliterated. In January 1952, during the final stages of work on 
the building, Frank T. Gartside, assistant superintendent of the 
National Capital Parks, wrote to the commission indicating willing- 
ness to assume full responsibility for rehabilitating the grounds. On 
January 25, the commission accepted his offer. In only a little more 
than six weeks, the disassembled landscape was "put back together 
again," a process that involved moving several fully grown trees, as 
well as reconstructing the. gardens and installing new plantings in 
several places on the grounds. 4 The entire operation is documented in 
a series of remarkable photographs. 


3. Commission on Renovation of the Executive Mansion, Report of the Commission on 
the Renovation of the Executive Mansion, compiled by Edwin Basteman Morris 
(Washington, DC: US C.PO, 1952), 94-96 (Chronology). 

4. NFS, "Report on the Care and Rehabilitation of the Executive Mansion Grounds 
Incident to the Renovation of the While House, January, 1950, to May 1952,” by Fanny- 
Fern Davis (ca. 1952), ESF/WH1VNPS, 1-3. The maintenance building currently on the 
White House grounds seems to date from the Truman administration and may be a 
converted construction building. 


299 

Chapter 7. President's Park and the Influence of the Warnecke Plan: 1948-1969 



The Grounds of the While House 


300 


Even before the reconstruction started, the two lindens that President 
Roosevelt had planted in honor of the coronation of the king and 
queen of England had to be moved (figure 7-2). On March 7, 1952, 
after the reconstruction of the building, a large southern magnolia 
was moved to the east of the south portico to balance the Jackson 
magnolias on the west side (figure 7-3). Two weeks later a large 
saucer magnolia was transplanted to the north lawn, northwest of 
the fountain. The previous month 25 large boxwood had been 
planted north of the north portico, replacing an old Japanese holly 
hedge (figure 7-4). Two of the largest boxwood plants, selected 
because they were as old as the White House itself, became the 
commemorative plantings for President Truman. The north drive 
was also regraded. On the slope to the north of the east entrance, a 
new planting of azaleas was established (figure 7-5). 5 

In the course of rebuilding the White House, the east garden designed 
by Beatrix Farrand for Ellen Axson Wilson was completely destroyed 
(figure 7-6). Topsoil was brought in to regrade the site in February 
1952. Speed was a prime concern in the restoration of the grounds, 
especially the east garden, because Queen Juliana of the Netherlands 
was to make a state visit on April 4, and a reception was planned for 
her in this garden. Not only was the grading, sodding, and planting 
of hedge and border plants complete, but thousands of Dutch tulip 
bulbs and hundreds of azalea plants, all in full bloom, were in place 
and ready to greet the Dutch monarch (figure 7-7). 

Rehabilitation of the rest of the grounds kept pace with this garden. 
After the temporary construction buildings were removed, the south 
lawn was regraded and sodded with a mixture of Merion bluegrass 
and creeping red fescue. The west garden did not have to be regraded 
and totally reconstructed, but it was almost entirely replanted with 
beni-geri azaleas along the east side of the West Wing and with 
1,430 new rose bushes, of such popular floribunda varieties as 
Improved Lafayette, Vogue, Fashion, Goldilocks, Independence, and 
Pinocchio. Figure 7-8 shows a diagrammatic plan of the rose 
varieties in the west garden and also a plan of the azalea planting at 
the east entrance. 6 


5. NPS, "Report on the Care and Rehabilitation of the Executive Mansion Grounds," 1-3; 
news release, Mar. 19, 1952, Papers of Harry 5. Truman, President's Secretary's Files, 
HSTL; George W. Harding (chief, Horticulture and Maintenance Div.} to Thompson, Jan. 9, 
1950, ESF/WHL/NPS. NPS, "The White House Gardens and Grounds." 

6. The garden designs may have been based on drawings made in 1945 by Irving Paine, 
who died in 1950. See NPS, "Tire President's Garden," 62. No other landscape designer's 
name lias been mentioned in connection with the gardens. 


PART I: THE EVOLUTION OF PRESIDENT'S PARK 



An aerial photograph taken after the reconstruction of the White 
House and the rehabilitation of its grounds is shown in figure 7-9. 
During the last year of his administration, Truman paid particular 
attention to the grounds and referred frequently to the Olmsted 
report. 7 Perhaps for this reason, figure 7-9 reveals that by 1953 
significant clearing of the north-south axis south of the transverse 
road had finally been accomplished. The much-criticized weeping 
beech was gone, as were some other trees that had been too close to 
the south fountain. A few flowering trees are visible in the general 
vicinity of the fountain, but at a more comfortable distance from the 
axial view. 

Information is rather sparse concerning athletic and recreational 
facilities during the Truman administration. Truman and his family 
undoubtedly continued to use the Roosevelt swimming pool. 
Truman enjoyed pitching horseshoes in a pit near the West Wing. 8 

While the administration of Dwight D. Eisenhower was relatively 
inactive in terms of landscaping, a putting green that was donated 
by the American Golf Association was installed on the south lawn 
near the path to the West Wing in 1954 (figure 7-10). Eisenhower 
was also the first president to use the south lawn for helicopter 
landings. In 1953 he ordered that roses planted the year before in the 
west garden be moved to West Potomac Park as an economy mea- 
sure. He had pink azaleas added to the garden. Eisenhower com- 
memorative trees include a black walnut planted on April 12, 1957; 
a northern red oak planted on October 14, 1960 (the president's 70th 
birthday), south of the present visitor entrance pavilion; a red oak 
planted in 1960; and a pin oak that was originally from the grounds 
of Mount Vernon and was planted on May 8, 1958, near the West 
Wing to commemorate the centennial of Theodore Roosevelt's birth. 9 
The pin oak and the northern red oak are still extant. The red oak 
was removed in 1983 and replaced in 1984. Camellias were 
apparently an Eisenhower favorite. In 1956 a flame red Eisenhower 
camellia was planted near the south portico, and 12 others were 
planted near the west knoll. 10 


7. NPS. "The President’s Garden," 63. McPeck apparently interviewed George Harding. 

8. Photograph in The Living White House (Washington, DC: The White House Historical 
Association, with the cooperation of the National Geographical Society, 1991), 127. 

9. Public Papers of the President, Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1958 (Washington, D.C.: Office 
of the Federal Register, National Archives and Record Services Administration, 1959), 389. 

10. NPS, "The President's Garden," 64. 


The Grounds of the White House 


301 

Chapter 7. President's Park and the Influence of the Warncckc Plan: 1948-1969 



The Grounds of the White House 


As president-elect, John F. Kennedy already had determined that the 
west garden, later officially designated as the Rose Garden, needed to 
be upgraded. It was still essentially the same garden that had been 
hastily reassembled after the Truman renovation of the White 
House, a garden with roses and other flowers but without any 
background planting. Kennedy knew that it did not measure up to 
the gardens of official residences in Europe, and he wanted to take 
steps to improve it immediately, a resolve that intensified after a 
state visit to France, with stops in England and Austria. 

Kennedy asked Rachel Lambert Mellon (Mrs. Paul Mellon), a family 
friend with a background in horticulture, to redesign the garden. The 
space occupied by the garden was essentially an outdoor reception 
room, which had to have a large central area completely free of any 
planting but grass so that the maximum number of people could 
attend events. President Kennedy presented Mrs. Mellon with a 
considerable design challenge: within a relatively small area, she was 
to design a garden that would appeal to the most discriminating 
taste in garden design but that would also accommodate 1,000 
people for a ceremony. Late in October 1961, while walking past the 
Frick Museum on Fifth Avenue in New York City, Mrs. Mellon came 
to a decision that flowering magnolias, like those in front of the 
Frick, were essential to the new White House garden. The linchpin of 
her plan would be four large saucer magnolias, one in each corner of 
the garden." 

From this point on, the conceptual design progressed rapidly. Flower 
borders 12 feet wide would be planted along the north and south 
sides. Although Kennedy liked roses, he also wanted a variety of 
other flowers and had a special interest in including flowers that 
Thomas Jefferson might have grown. Mrs. Mellon came up with 
several preliminary sketches for the flower beds, divided into dia- 
mond shapes, and the president accepted her plan. 12 

In 1961 the National Park Service assumed all planning and main- 
tenance responsibilities for the White House grounds; previously 
they had been under the control of the Office of the Chief Usher at 
the White House. To implement the new garden plan successfully, it 
was necessary to find a horticultural specialist within the Park 
Service to manage the entire operation. 


1 1 . Perry Wheeler, a Washington landscape architect, assisted her with the design. 
Rachel Lambert Mellon, "President Kennedy's Rose Garden," White House History, 1, no. 1 
(1983), 5-6; Irvin Williams (supt. of White House grounds), interview with Cynthia 
Zaitzevsky, Feb. 27, 1995. 

12. Mellon, "President Kennedy’s Rose Garden," 7-11; Williams interview, Feb. 27, 1995. 


302 

Part I: The Evolution of President's Park 



The Grounds of the White House 


In the course of her visits to NPS gardens in the Washington area, 
Mrs. Mellon met Irvin Williams, who was head horticulturist at the 
Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens. At her suggestion Williams was 
transferred to the White House, where he became the chief horti- 
culturist. Mrs. Mellon and Williams found three perfect magnolias in 
an area called Fountain Four near the Jefferson Memorial. The fourth 
tree came from the vicinity of the Washington War Memorial. In the 
beds on either side of the central lawn, five Katherine crab apples 
were planted, each set within a diamond-shaped planting of santo- 
lina. Successive displays of blooming flowers, along with the roses, 
would be provided by bulbs in the spring; followed by dark lavender 
heliotrope, geraniums, lilies, and white dianthus in the summer; and 
by chrysanthemums and Michaelmas daisies in the fall. The 
redesigned Rose Garden was finished in the fall of 1962. President 
Kennedy used it frequently, both for ceremonies (figure 7-11) and 
for his own enjoyment. The four saucer magnolias are Kennedy's 
commemorative trees. 13 

On April 6, 1961, Senator Henry Jackson planted an apple tree for 
President Kennedy just southeast of the east garden. 14 

Both President and Mrs. Kennedy consulted the Olmsted report early 
in his administration and strongly favored its recommendations. In 
accordance with the report, they had masses of holly, rhododendron, 
and mountain laurel planted just inside the south fence to help 
ensure Caroline Kennedy's privacy, but they kept the south vista 
open. Some of these Kennedy-era boundary plantings remain, 
although they are replenished from time to time. In addition, the 
Kennedys had nine dogs, which had free run of the grounds, and a 
henwire fence was installed on the inner side of the boundary fence, 
with metal below the gates, to keep the dogs in. The Kennedys also 
had two ponies. Macaroni and Tex, who were housed in newly built 
stalls in the maintenance building near the tennis court. The 
condition of the lawn became a chronic problem because of brown 
spots caused by the leaking hydraulic systems of helicopters. An 
improved strain of grass seed was used, and a new sprinkler system 


13. "The White House Gardens and Grounds," map, ca. 19931 Williams was also in 
charge of the government's large tree nursery on Dangerfield Island in the Potomac and 
of plantings on the Baltimore/Washington Parkway and a number of recreational 
centers. Williams interview, Feb. 27, 1995. 

14. White House Historical Association, The White House: An Historic Guide 
(Washington, DC: The White House Historical Association, 1964). 


303 

Chapter 7. President's Park and the Influence of the Wamecke Plan: 1948-1969 



The Grounds of the white House was installed in spring 1963. However, the problem continued into 

the Johnson administration. 15 

During the Kennedy administration the use of the grounds for 
formal entertainment increased dramatically, a practice that has been 
followed and become more prevalent since then. Jacqueline Kennedy 
was instrumental in bringing cultural events to the grounds. For ex- 
ample, a large recital and choral shell was erected {on platforms 
provided by the Department of the Interior) on the south lawn to 
allow for a concert by the Greater Boston Youth Symphony 
Orchestra and the Breckenridge Boys Choir on April 16, 1962. The 
development of the east and west gardens also encouraged enter- 
taining outdoors, but it is probably the limited size of the White 
House that has contributed to the establishment of large outdoor 
tents for entertaining guests. 16 

Another plan that was formulated during the Kennedy and Johnson 
administrations but was not implemented until the 1970s and 
1980s, and then only partially, was that of the Pennsylvania Avenue 
Development Corporation. The corporation was formed at the 
recommendation of the Council on Pennsylvania Avenue established 
by President Kennedy after his inauguration to study Pennsylvania 
Avenue between the Capitol and the White House. The "Year 2000" 
plan, issued in 1964 by the National Capital Planning Commission, 
"suggested a renewal of the spirit of L'Enfant, and an application of 
his ideas as far as is practicable in the light of the complicated 
problems caused by the hard facts of twentieth-century urban life." 17 
Several plans were published in the report, including the overall 
"Plan for Pennsylvania Avenue and Vicinity" (figure 7-12). 18 


15. The maintenance building had evolved from a small shed built in the early part of 
the Taft administration. Fact sheet relating to peripheral planting, the White House 
grounds, ca. 1962, box 1, doc. box 14 of 31, acc. 65A-I108, FSF/WHL/NPS; NPS, "The 
President's Garden," 65; "Lost in the Rhododendrons," The Evening Star, Mar. 24, 1961. 
Present jet helicopters do not do this. Alton E. Rabbitt (soil conservationist) to asst. reg. dir., 
June 8, 1962; T. Sutton Jett (reg. dir., NCR) to J. B. West (chief usher), Aug. 20, 1962; 1. J. 
(Nash) Castro to Asst. Reg. Dir. (Operation and Maintenance), Sept. 5, 1962; Rabbitt to J. M. 
Duich (Dept, of Agronomy, Penn. State Univ.), Dec. 12, 1962; all in box 1, doc. box 14 of 
31, acc. 65A-1 108, ESF/W1IL/NPS. See also Castro to Perry H. Wheeler (landscape architect), 
Feb. 8, 1963; Jett to West, Feb. 15, 1963; Castro to Victor A. Renner, March 13, 1963; and 
Edward B. Willard to Soil Conservationist/Planl Pathologist, Nov. 3, 1965; all in box 45, 
document box 20 of 31, acc. 68A-3201, E5F/WHL/NPS. Williams interview, Feb. 27, 1995. 

16. Information courtesy of Krause (E5F/WHL/NPS), June 16, 2000; file 930; Concerts 
(White House), box 14, acc. 65A-1108. ESF/WHL/NPS. 

1 7. National Capital Planning Commission (hereafter NCPC), Special Streets: Flan for 
Virginia Avenue (Washington, D. C.: GPO, 1964), 4, cited in Leach and Barthold, "L'Enfant 
Plan of the City of Washington,'' sec. 8, pp. 41-42. 

18. The President's Council on Pennsylvania Avenue, Report on Pennsylvania Avenue 
(Washington, D.C.: 1964), 1-37. 


304 , 

Part !; Thf. Evolution of President's Park 



Although initially President Lyndon B. Johnson was not concerned 
about landscaping issues, Mrs. Johnson was very interested in con- 
servation and the beautification of the nation's cities. The American 
public was very responsive to her effort, a manifestation of the 
national environmental movement. Mrs. Johnson's commitment to 
this cause dated to her childhood, when she roamed the pastures and 
woods near her Texas home. The projects sponsored by Mrs. 
Johnson's Committee for a More Beautiful Capital and its com- 
panion philanthropic organization, the Society for a More Beautiful 
Capital, inspired similar projects in other cities. 19 

Shortly after her husband became president, Mrs, Johnson had the 
east garden, which had changed little since the Truman administra- 
tion, redesigned by Mrs. Mellon. Like the west garden, the east 
garden features a row of European lindens, topiary hollies, and 
seasonal flower plantings, as well as a grape arbor designed by I. M. 
Pei and a small pool. It was completed in the fall of 1964 and was 
dedicated to Jacqueline Kennedy on April 22, 1965 {figure 7-13). 

Mrs. Johnson held beautification meetings and teas in the garden, 
and her daughters entertained there. 20 

In 1 962-63 during the Kennedy administration, plans were prepared 
for new guardhouses along Pennsylvania Avenue (figure 7-14). In 
June 1964 this project went out to bid, but the guardhouses were 
not constructed immediately because the bids were too high. They 
were eventually built in 1965. The effects of crowds during 
Kennedy's inauguration in 1961, combined with an unauthorized 
vehicle incident at the northwest gate in 1964, necessitated rework- 
ing the gate and fence systems. In 1 965 the remains of the Hedl fence 


19. Martha Cole, "Flowers are Legacy," Washington Star, Nov. 16, 1964, box 67, 
dcxmment box 26 of 31, acc. 72A-6215, ESF/WHL/NPS; Donnie Radcliffe, "How Their 
Garden Grows: The Legacy of First Ladies Lives in the Trees, Flowers and Shrubs," The 
Washington Post, May 12, 1994. Mrs. Johnson loved the gardens and grounds of the 
White House and told chief horticulturist Irvin Williams that sometimes she wished she 
could just take her shoes off and roam through them; Williams interview, Feb. 27, 1995. 

20. Castro to Page, July 9, 1968, box 17, document box 21 of 31, acc. 72A-6215, 
ESF/WHL/NPS; Scott and Lee, Buildings of the District of Columbia, 280-81; Williams 
interview, Feb. 27, 1995; NPS, "The President's Garden," 66-67; sec. of the int. to dir. 
(NPS), Dec. 16, 1965, box 9, Beautification file. 1965, ESF/WHL/NPS. In December 1965 
Mrs. Paul Mellon received the Conservation Service Award of the Department of the 
Interior for the design of both gardens. Information on Pei's contribution to the design of 
the arbor comes courtesy of Irvin Williams, June 14, 2000. 


The Grounds of the White House 


305 

Chapter 7. President's Park and the Influence of the Warnecke Plan: 1 948- 1 969 



The Grounds of the White House 


306 

Past I: The Evolution of President's Park 


along Pennsylvania Avenue were taken down and replaced by a 
replica, the fence was realigned, and the coping was repaired. 21 
Extensive work also was done on the sidewalk and street in front of 
the White House (figure 7-1 5). 22 

Several commemorative trees planted during the Johnson adminis- 
tration are still living. On October 16, 1964, President Johnson 
planted a willow oak on the south lawn near the Rose Garden. On 
May 3, 1968, Mrs. Johnson planted a fern-leaf beech on the north 
grounds in front of the west colonnade. President and Mrs. Johnson 
also planted a Darlington oak almost due south of the Oval Office on 
October 16, 1964. The Darlington oak was later removed due to 
decline. 23 

During the last year of the Johnson administration a new children's 
garden was developed in an area that First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy 
and her children had used for a trampoline. Landscape architect 
Edward Durell Stone Jr. designed the garden, which President 
Johnson dedicated one day before he left office. Located in a secluded 
spot west of the tennis court amid a tulip polar grove, the Children's 
Garden is diminutive and very private. It consists of a small pool 2 
feet deep that is set in a flagstone terrace, surrounded by holly, 
rhododendrons, and mountain laurel (figure 7-16). A Stayman 
Winesap apple is the only tree of any size. Bronze plaques with 
concrete casts of foot and hand prints of presidential grandchildren 
are set in the flagstones; the earliest are those of two Johnson 
grandchildren, Lucinda and Patrick. 2 ' 1 


21. Horne to ARD, memorandum, Jan. 13, 1964; Maj. Ralph C. Stover to Jett, Jan. 20, 
1964, Castro to Stover, Jan. 27, 1964; Walter C. Hinkle (acting reg. chief, Facilities 
Maintenance), memorandum to file, Feb. 17, 1964; Preston D. Riddel (reg. chief. Facilities 
Maintenance) to ARD (Operations and Maintenance), memorandum. Mar. 20, 1964; all in 
D46/White House Fences and Gates (1962-65), box 20, acc. 68A-3201, ESF/WHiy NPS. 
Hugh B. Wallis to chief (NCDC), Nov. 10, 1965, construction photographs: Guardhouses, 
Fence, and Sidewalk, no. 14 (general view looking east on Pennsylvania Ave. from main 
guardhouse, Oct. 1, 1965) and no. 17 (main guardhouse looking NW, Nov. 30, 1965), W 
14-29 13/White House/Guard Booth, Fence, and Walk (1965), box 22, acc. 72A-6215, 
E5F/WHL/NPS. 

22. Castro to Baldi Construction Engineering. Inc., June 4, 1964, box 7, doc box 18 of 31, 
access 68A-3047, ESF/WHL/NPS. 

23. "The White House Gardens and Grounds," pamphlet and map [Clinton adminis- 
tration); list of presidential commemorative trees planted from the Kennedy through the 
Carter administrations, OC/WH, Jan. 19, 1979. NPS "The President's Garden," 67, identifies 
other Johnson commemorative trees mentioned besides the Darlington oak — a mountain 
ash near the cast garden, a white dogwood, and white redbud, none of which is shown on 
the current map of the White House grounds. 

24. NPS, "The President's Garden," 67; Williams interview, Feb. 1 7, 1995. 



Lafayette Park 


Lafayette Fark 


In 1949 suggestions were made for additions to Lafayette Park, 
including floodlighting the memorial statues. However, the Commis- 
sion of Fine Arts opposed such lighting, saying that it distorted the 
designs and made the pieces ugly. 25 

Controversy during this period resulted from proposed plans to 
develop the neighborhood surrounding Lafayette Park. The eventual 
restoration of the area, however, was a major victory for national 
historic preservation since it set an important precedent and led to 
the eventual passage of the National Historic Preservation Act of 
1966. 

On August 16, 1960, the favorite bench of Bernard Baruch, adviser 
to President Wilson and later presidents, was dedicated in his honor 
as the "Bernard Baruch Bench of Inspiration." This bench, northwest 
of the Jackson statue, was where Baruch frequently sat and talked 
with people. The dedication took place three days before Baruch's 
90th birthday and was also celebrated concurrently with the 50th 
anniversary of the Boy Scouts of America. 26 

Early during the Kennedy administration another attempt was made 
to move the Andrew Jackson statue from its current location. 
Charles M. Merwin, a Washington, D.C., resident wrote to the presi- 
dent suggesting again the switch of the Jackson and Washington 
statues. At this time (July 1961) the Washington statue had been 
taken down to allow for the construction of the K Street tunnel. But 
Cornelius H. Heine, chief of the Division of Public Use and Interpre- 
tation for National Capital Parks, strongly opposed the request, 
noting that the Jackson statue's "present location is a matter of 
tradition and great significance." 27 

During the Kennedy administration a joint solution was found to the 
long-standing need for more office space for the president's staff and 
the desire to preserve some of the early 19th century buildings 
around Lafayette Park. (According to custom, the buildings around 
the open space are referred to collectively as "Lafayette Square," 


25. Demaray to the under sec. (DOI), memorandum. Mar. 4, 1949, 1460/Lafayettc 
Park (2), box 17, acc. 66A-1097, ESF/WHL/NPS. 

26. "Ceremony in Honor of the Ninetieth Birthday of Bernard M. Baruch and the 
Dedication of the 'Bernard Baruch Bench of Inspiration,’" sponsored by the National Capital 
Area Council and the Boy Scouts of America, 12 noon, Aug. 16, 1960, Lafayette Park, 
Washington, ESF/WHL/NPS. 

27. Kerr, "Statue of General Andrew Jackson, " 52. 


307 

Chapter 7. President's Park and the Influence of the Wamecke Plan: 1 948-1 96 9 



Lafayette Park 


whereas the park proper is known as "Lafayette Park.") At the same 
time plans were made to redesign the park to make it also appear 
more typical of the 1 9th century, but the landscape designs were not 
carried out until 1 969-70. 

The 1901 McMillan plan had proposed developing the area around 
Lafayette Park, and proposals had also been made to the Commission 
of Fine Arts since 1917, when Cass Gilbert's Treasury Annex was 
constructed on Madison Place. During that period it was assumed 
that the entire square would be developed with large government 
buildings, and the Commission of Fine Arts recommended that the 
Treasury Annex be extended all the way to H Street and that a new 
State Department Building be built on Jackson Place. The existing 
State, War, and Navy Building could then be remodeled to "look like 
the treasury" and would be used for the president's executive offices. 
In 1958 Congress approved plans for an executive office building on 
Jackson Place and a court of claims on Madison Place. In 1960 
Congress decided that the Decatur House should not be demolished. 
Bills were also introduced to preserve the Dolley Madison House, the 
Tayloe House, and the Belasco Theater on Madison Place, but 
unfortunately the theater did not survive. 28 

The General Services Administration commissioned two Boston 
architectural firms, each with a long history of commitment to his- 
toric preservation, to plan the development of Lafayette Square. 
Nonetheless, neither was able to resolve the problem of providing 
capacious new office buildings while at the same time retaining some 
of the historic houses. 29 While still a senator, Kennedy objected 
strongly to the plans. For most of the first two years of his presi- 
dency, he and William Walton required the two firms to produce 
many alternative designs. Eventually President Kennedy concluded 
that the old buildings would have to go, and construction drawings 
for the new buildings were prepared. First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy 
was the only holdout, saying: "The wreckers haven't started yet, and 
until they do, it can be saved.'' 30 


28. Kohler, 7 he Commission of Fine Arts, 80-82; NPS, "Historical Study of the Buildings 
along Madison Place, Lafayette Square, Wasliinglon, D.C." 

29. The firms were Perry, Shaw, Hepburn, and Dean (the architects of the restoration 
of Colonial Williamsburg) and Shcpley, Bulfinch, Richardson and Abbott (Henry Hobson 
Richardson’s successor firm and the architects of many of Harvard University’s early 
20th century buildings}. Kohler, The Commission of Fine Arts, 82-83. 

30. Quoted by Mason Andrews in his article in "Lafayette Square, 1963-1983: 
Architecture, Preservation and the Presidency,” San Francisco, CA: Office of John Carl 
Wamecke & Associates, [ 1 983 ] . This compendium of articles apparently was produced for an 
exhibition of the same name in 1 983. 


308 

Part I: The Evolution of President's Park 



Lafayette Park 


In October 1962 President Kennedy asked architect John Carl 
Warnecke, an acquaintance, to review the problem of Lafayette 
Square. Warnecke proposed an entirely new solution. His idea was to 
put the new office buildings behind the existing smaller-scale build- 
ings and to provide courtyards for the new buildings that would 
open onto Jackson and Madison Places. The new office buildings 
would be set well back from the older ones and would also be faced 
with dark red brick to reduce their apparent size. All the older 
buildings on Pennsylvania Avenue, Jackson Place, and Madison Place 
(with the exception of the Belasco Theater), as well as the old Court 
of Claims (formerly the Corcoran Gallery and now the Renwick 
Gallery, part of the Smithsonian Institution), and the former State, 
War, and Navy Building, would be preserved. The Kennedys strongly 
supported Warnecke's proposal and decided to go ahead with it, as 
long as the cost did not exceed the $30 million already appropriated 
for new buildings. Eventually it proved possible to build the two new 
office buildings, restore all of the old townhouses, demolish the 
inappropriately scaled office buildings, and construct new infill 
buildings, within the $30 million appropriation. 31 

Initial reaction was mixed. Warnecke's ideas have since become 
familiar through numerous examples of contextualist and post- 
modernist architecture, but in the 1960s they were controversial. In 
addition, the work was done in a piecemeal fashion, since the General 
Services Administration insisted that the new federal buildings be 
constructed before any restoration work was done on the town- 
houses and the infill buildings. Senator Eugene McCarthy com- 
mented, "You really had us all confused down there at Lafayette 
Square, Warnecke. All we could see were those two new big brick 
buildings towering over those dilapidated little townhouses. No one 
was sure if you were putting them up or tearing them down." 32 

Eventually, however, the "restoration" of Lafayette Square came to 
be widely regarded as a major victory for historic preservation. This 
was definitely a landmark project in the historic preservation move- 
ment in this country, but (through hindsight and with the benefit of 
current thinking) it can be seen that there were certain flaws. 


31. Warnecke had studied with Walter Gropius at Harvard University's Graduate 
School of Design but had also apprenticed with Bay Area architects still practicing in the 
Beaux-Arts tradition, Andrews, "Lafayette Square, 1963-1983"; Kohler, The Commission of 
Fine Arts, 84-5; Bernard L. Boutin, "Lafayette Square: The Final Word," A. I. A. Journal 39 no. 
1 {Jan. 1963), 55-56; Donnie Radcliffe, "Jacqueline Onassis: The First Lady of Elegance," 
The Washington Post, May 20, 1994. 

32. Andrews, "Lafayette Square, 1963-1983." 


309 

Chapter 7. President's Park and the Influence of the. Warnecke Plan: 1948-1969 



Lafayette Park especially Warnccke's infill buildings on Jackson Place, which were 

designed to mimic the genuine 19th century houses on the squared 3 

In the meantime, plans went forward to make Lafayette Park look 
"more 19th century" as well, and the Warnecke firm was commis- 
sioned to do the landscape design. President Kennedy approved a 
conceptual scheme in 1962 (figure 7-17). Later, both President and 
Mrs. Johnson became deeply interested in the work. 34 It was not 
until 1969, however, that construction began on the park, as a part 
of Mrs. Johnson's beautification program for Washington. Con- 
struction was completed in the summer of 1970. In December 1965 
the Old Dominion Foundation, established by Paul Mellon, had given 
$409,000 for landscaping. An important feature of the Warnecke 
plan was the replacement of the existing 1930s concrete walks with 
brick walks, although the actual path pattern was not changed. 
Brick walks were considered to be "traditional" and 19th century, 
despite the fact that the walks in Lafayette Park before 1936 had 
always been gravel or asphalt, never brick. The brick was intended to 
match the brick of the new sidewalks on Jackson and Madison 
Places. Two new pools with fountains at the east and west sides of 
the park were to reinforce the east-west axis and relate the park to 
the entrances to the new buildings. The two urns, which had been 
situated at the approximate sites of the pools since 1936, were 
moved to their present positions on Pennsylvania Avenue. As the 
Lafayette Park design developed, it ran into opposition, including ob- 
jections from the Commission of Fine Arts to a proposed band shell. 35 


33. Since at least 1976, the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards have stated that 
"alterations , . . which seek to create an earlier appearance shall be discouraged." See Heri- 
tage Conservation and Recreation Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, The Secretary of 
the Interior's Standards for Historic Preservation Projects {Washington, DC: Office of Arche- 
ology and Historic Preservation, |ca. 1976)), 4. 

34. When Johnson, with the first lady's committed support, sent the bill for what 
would be the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 to Congress, he attached a 
handwritten notation: "Lady Bird wants it." Quoted in Andrews, "Lafayette Square, 1963- 
1983." 

35. George B Hartzog Jr. (dir. NPS) to Ernest Brooks Jr. (president. Old Dominion 
Foundation), Dec. 15, 1965; Brooks to Hartzog, Dec. 16, 1965; DOI, Office of the Secretary; 
press release, Dec. 19, 1965; "Lafayette Park Revived" (clipping, newspaper not identified), 
Dec. 20, 1965; "Most Welcome Gift," Washington Star, Dec. 21, 1965; Brooks to Hartzog, 
Dec. 21, 1965; Mrs. Lyndon B. Johnson to John Walker (dir.. National Gallery of Art), Jan. 
5, 1966; William Walton (chairman, CFA) to Jett, Oct. 10, 1966; Michael Painter (John 
Carl Warnecke & Assoc.) to Robert W. Andrews (chief. National Capital Office), Feb. 3 1967; 
Castro to Ashton, Feb. 27, 1967; and Painter to Theodore Swem (reg. dir.), Jan. 8, 1 970; all 
in box 20, ESF/WHIVNPS. In 1970 John Carl Warnecke and Michael Painter set up the firm 
of Michael Painter and Associates as a subsidiary to provide landscape architecture and 
urban design services. An underground comfort station was originally planned for 
Lafayette Park but was never constructed. Mrs. Paul Mellon was named adviser to the 
landscape plan for the park. 


310 

PartI: The Evolution op President's Park 



Lafayette Park 


The National Capital Planning Commission approved the Warnecke 
firm's design for Lafayette Park in July 1967, but bids in August 

1968 were too high, and the project was again deferred. Finally, in 
February 1969, a $423,550 contract was awarded, which covered 
only the resurfacing of the walks with brick and the two elliptical 
pools. Construction proceeded rapidly in the summer and fall of 

1969 but was not completed until the summer of 1970. During con- 
struction a high board fence decorated with paintings by Washing- 
ton schoolchildren was erected around the site. Eventually new 
plantings were added, including saucer magnolias. The cannon 
around the Jackson statue were rehabilitated, and chess tables were 
installed in response to popular request. Azaleas were planted on an 
elliptical mound at the base of the Jackson statue, even though they 
were not part of the Warnecke plan. 36 

During the Johnson administration a visitor kiosk was installed in 
the northern part of the park. A concrete ramp and slightly elevated 
platform provide universal access to the kiosk, a hexagonal, wood- 
frame and glass structure painted green and blue xvith white trim. 

Lafayette Park became the site of protests and demonstrations 
against the Vietnam War. This use has persisted to the present, with 
protests focusing on other issues. Lafayette Square, especially the 
side facing the White House, has become the American equivalent of 
the Speakers' Corner in Hyde Park in London. 


36. Mrs. Mellon withdrew as an adviser on the project in May 1967, apparently as a 
result of the conflicts with the Commission of Fine Arts. Mrs. Mellon to John Carl 
Warnecke, May 23, 1967; Warnecke to Mrs. Mellon, June 6, 1967; NCPC, "Lafayette Park: 
Report of the Park, Recreation and Open space Committee," July 27, 1967; Castro to Mrs. 
Johnson, Aug. 14, 1968; DO!, news release "Lafayette Park Restoration Begins," Feb, 7, 
1969; "Fountains to Enhance Park's 19th-Century Motif," Washington Post, Feb. 10, 1969; 
Painter to Castro, Feb. 26, 1969; "New Lafayette Park To Show Its Charms,” Washington 
Star, Nov. 5, 1969; all in box 20, ESF/WHLy'NPS, See also Robert L. Lewis, "Lafayette 
Square Open, but Incomplete," The Evening Star, Dec, 15, 1969, box 6, document box 31 of 
■ 31, acc. 79.80.0002, ESF/WHL/NP5. Williams interview, Feb. 27, 1 995. Information on the 
azaleas courtesy of Helen Matthews (President's Park/NPS), June 19, 2001 . 


311 

Chapter 7. President's Park and the Influence of the Warnecke Plan: 1948-1969 



President's Park South 


President's Park South 


In 1 954 the location of the National Christmas Tree was moved to 
the Ellipse. The Christmas Pageant of Peace, centered near the tree, 
started the same year and grew increasingly more elaborate. By the 
Christmas season of 1961-62 the pageant included reindeer, a 
nativity scene, and a yule log. Until 1973 a cut tree was used. 37 

In 1957 an extension was added to the west side of the First Division 
Monument, and in 1962 two panels were added to the Second 
Division Memorial. In 1964 the Boy Scout Memorial was erected on 
the 15th Street side about halfway between Constitution Avenue and 
E Street to mark the site of the First National Boy Scout Jamboree in 
Washington in 193 7. 38 

In 1965, as part of Mrs. Johnson's beautification program, a 
planting plan was developed for the northeast quadrant of the Ellipse 
(1 7th and E Streets). The plan identified marigolds to be followed by 
Toronto mums. For 1966 the plan envisioned petunias to be suc- 
ceeded by Joanette mums. A gravel walk stretching from the 
northwest to the southeast curved slightly across the quadrant. 39 

In 1966 the firm of Skidmore, Owing s & Merrill prepared for the 
Ellipse a schematic plan that would be revised periodically until 
1969. The plan originally called for four fountains to be located 
roughly at the four corners of the Ellipse. By 1968 a final plan was 
developed, calling for five fountains, notably one on the west to 
balance the existing Boy Scout Memorial. Disagreement ensued not 
only on the number of fountains, but also on their location and 
building material. 40 


37. Jett, "Requirements for the Christmas Pageant of Peace, Dec. 4, 1962"; dir. { N PS ) to 
lUdalll, memorandum, Nov. 21, 1962; Milo F. Christiansen (supt., D.C. Recreation) to all 
board members, memorandum, Nov. 14, 1962; Heine to James McKechnie, Oct. 15, 
1962; Heine to rcg. dir. (NPS), Oct. 31, 1962; Wirth to Leonard A. Baron, June 5, 1962; 
all in 111 5-2 7/Christmas Pageant of Peace, box 16, acc. 65A-1097, WH&WPP files, 
ESF/WHL/NPS. Jerome W. Bailey, news release, Dec. 18, 1961, A8227/Special Events 
(1972), box 31, acc. 79-770005, ESF/WHL/NPS. 

38. Cass Gilbert Jr. designed the wings for both monuments. The sculptor for the 
bronze of the Boy Scout Memorial was Donald DeLue; the architect of the base was 
William Henry Deacy. Goode, 77ie Outdoor Sculpture, 133, 136-37. 

39. Ellipse planting plan, Feb. 1965, NCR 23-226, National Capital Office, NPS; plan 
was amended for 1966, ibid., Dec. 1965. 

40. First Lady's Committee for a More Beautiful Capital, "Report to the President from 
First Lady's Committee for a More Beautiful Capital," n.d. [ca. 1968); Joseph Judge, 
"New Grandeur for Flowering Washington," National Geographic Magazine (April 1967), 
500-39; information courtesy of Krause (ESF/WHL/NPS), Jan. 30, 2001. 


312 

Part 1: The Evolution of President’s Park 



President’s Park South 


In 1966 Rose Saul Zalles, granddaughter of John Saul (the Irish 
horticulturist A. J. Downing had selected in 1851 to superintend his 
Washington projects) presented a gift of $75,000 to the Society for a 
More Beautiful Capital, Inc. The funds were intended for a park site 
in the northwest quadrant of the Ellipse. By 1967 a design by 
Skidmore, Owings & Merrill called for a fountain in this area, the 
Zalles fountain. A bronze plaque (18" x 24") in the memory of John 
Saul was to be located on a bench adjacent to the fountain. A 
matching fountain was also proposed for the northeast quadrant of 
the Ellipse. The marble for the fountains was received late in 1969, 
but funding complications prohibited their installation. 41 

Architect Nathaniel Owings, the chairman of the Pennsylvania 
Avenue Development Corporation, prepared construction drawings 
and specifications for the other two fountains. In April 1968 the 
National Capital Planning Commission approved plans for them to 
be located at the 1 6th Street and Constitution Avenue entrance. The 
material finally selected was rainbow granite, two slabs of which 
(weighing 55 tons each) were brought from a quarry at Morton, 
Minnesota, on special flatcars, lowered into place, and then carved in 
place by the sculptor, Gordon Newell. The fountains, completed in 
1968, were made possible by a $60,000 gift from Enid Annenberg 
Haupt, the editor of Seventeen magazine, and were named in her 
honor. They underwent repairs in 1969. 42 


41. In March 1968 Hcnraux Marble Works (Lucca, Italy) agreed to donate marble for 
one fountain and to reduce the cost of the marble for the second fountain. Ralph E. 
Becker, a trustee for the Society for a More Beautiful Capital, made the arrangements. By 
the time the marble was received, a cutback had been ordered in all federal construction 
funds, allowing only 25% of the allocated monies to be used, and these had to pertain to 
safety, health, and critical environmental problems. All government funds for this project 
were cut. In 1969 it was estimated that the total project, including the two fountains, 
would cost approximately $356,300. Some documents refer to the northwest quadrant 
fountain as the Zalles-Saul fountain, and the northeast quadrant fountain as the 
Henraux-Becker fountain. The Said plaque was displayed at ceremonies on December 1 7, 
1968, attended by Mrs. Johnson. Office of the Press Secretary to Mrs. Johnson, press 
release. Sept. 29, 1966; "Zalles Fountain 1966-1968," box WHL-7BP-06, Records of the 
Director, E5F/WHL/NPS; Meryle Secrest, "Beautification Gets a Boost," Washington Post, 
Sept. 30, 1966, C2. Author unknown, "History of Two Marble Fountains," Apr. 20, 
1988. "Zalles Fountain 1975," box WHL-7BP-06, ESF/WHUNPS. Office of the Press 
Secretary to Mrs. Johnson, press release, Dec. 17, 1968, D24 Hains Point Jets (1966- 
1968) [1 of 21, box WHL-BF-013, Records of the Director, ESF/WH1/NPS. 

42. Charles E. Krueger to Castro, Nov. 28, 1967; Castro to Ralph Becker, March 6, 1968; 
Castro to dir. (NPS), March 11, 1968; Krueger to reg. dir. (NCR), March 1968; Charles H. 
Conrad (exec, dir., NCPC) to George B. Hartzog (dir., NPS), April 16, 1968; Wolf Von 
Eckhardt, "Gateway to Presidential Park: 2 Granite Slabs Ready for Sculptor," TJte 
Washington Post, Oct. 25, 1968; all in document box 21 of 31, box 16, acc, 72A-6215, 
ESF/WHL/NPS. Office of the Press Secretary to Mrs. Johnson, press release, Dec. 17, 1968, 
D24 Hains Point Jets (1966-1968) [1 of 21, WHUBF-013, ESF/WHiyNPS. These fountains 
were originally intended to operate year-round. 


313 

Chapter 7. President 's Park and the Influence of the Warneckc Plan: 1 948-1 969 



The Grounds of the Old Executive 
Office Building 


In 1966-67 new sidewalks were constructed along the Ellipse Road, 
Fresh sod was installed after the sidewalks were completed. 43 In 
1967-68 the walks in the northwest quadrant of the Ellipse were 
reconstructed. 44 In 1967 a feasibility study for an underground 
garage was prepared by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, but it was 
never constructed. A new system of walks and an underground 
restroom were also planned. A new 1969 lighting plan for the area 
proposed an increase to 136 streetlights. 45 


The Grounds of the Treasury Building 

In December 1950 a replica of the Liberty Bell, originally cast at the 
White Chapel Foundry in London in 1752 and recast by Pass and 
Stow in Philadelphia in 1753, was installed on the west side of the 
Treasury Building. The replica was cast at a foundry in the city of 
Annecy in the French Alps. 46 


The Grounds of the Old Executive Office Building 

No changes appear to have been made to the grounds of this building 
during the period covered by this chapter. 


43. J and B Construction Company of Alexandria, Virginia, got the contract for the 
road. One of the subcontractors was Wm. G. Burton Nurseries, Landscape Contractors, 
of West Hyattsvillc, Maryland. Robert W. .Andrews, Chief, NCDC, Acting Contracting 
Officer, to J and B Construction Company, Inc., Feb. 4, 1966; Franklin A. Hill (Burton 
Nurseries) to J and B Construction Company, Sept. 13, 1966. Both in document box 22 of 
31, box 28. acc. 72A-6215, ESF/WHL/NPS. 

44. Monte E. Fitch (NFS) to reg. dir.. May 2, 1968, "Completion Report,” document box 
28 of 31, box 18, acc. 79-7524, ESF/WHL/NPS. 

45. John Woodbridge (Skidmore, Owings & Merrill) Ip Jett, Feb, 23, 1967; Skidmore, 
Owings & Merrill, "Progress Report," June 9, 1967; Skidmore, Owings & Merrill to Charles 
Krueger (NFS), June 13, 1967; Jett to William Walton (chairman, CFA), June 12, 1967; 
Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, "Washington Ellipse One Level Garage Feasibility Study, 
Summary Report," Nov. 1967; all in document box 21 of 31, box 16, acc. 72A-6215, 
ESF/WHL/NPS. 

46. "Statue Survey: Liberty Bell," OC/Treasury. 


314 

PartI: The Evolution of President's Park 



Summary 


Summary 


President's Park continued to evolve during the period 1948 to 1969, 
but modifications were not dramatic. They mostly followed the 
Olmsted recommendations, such as clearing the north-south axis 
view. President Harry S. Truman and President and Mrs. John F. 
Kennedy used the Olmsted report to guide decisions on plantings and 
landscape changes. 

The massive renovations to the White House interior during the 
Truman administration damaged the landscape in the immediate 
vicinity of the building, but it was repaired soon after the work on 
the building was completed in 1952. 

Although information is rather sparse concerning athletic and rec- 
reational facilities during the Truman administration, the president 
enjoyed horseshoe pitching in a pit located near the West Wing. 
Providing special recreational features to suit the interests of the 
presidents and their families has continued through the present. 
During this period a putting green was installed for Dwight 
Eisenhower; henwire fencing was put in to keep the Kennedy dogs 
inside the grounds, and stalls were built in the maintenance building 
for the Kennedy children's ponies; and the Children Garden was 
developed in a secluded area near the maintenance building. 

In the late 1950s controversy arose over a proposal to replace the 
small-scale residential buildings around Lafayette Park with a new 
executive office building on Jackson Place and a new court of claims 
on Madison Place. The direct intervention of President and Mrs. 
Kennedy solved the problem as a plan by John Carl Warnecke was 
selected. The plan retained the residential scale of Jackson and 
Madison Places and placed the new buildings behind them. 
Warnecke's firm also renovated Lafayette Square in 1969-70, substi- 
tuting brick walks for the concrete ones, and adding elliptical pools 
at the east and west sides of the park. 

New monuments, such as the Boy 5cout Memorial (1964) and the 
Haupt fountains (1968), were installed in President's Park South. 
Additions to the First Division Monument (1957) and the Second 
Division Memorial (1962) also date from this period. In 1954 the 
location of the National Christmas Tree was moved to the Ellipse and 
in that same year the Christmas Pageant of Peace was started in the 
vicinity of the tree. 

During this period presidential involvement in the evolution of the 
grounds probably reached its highest level. Harry S. Truman, John 
and Jacqueline Kennedy, and Lady Bird Johnson were deeply inter- 


315 

Chapter 7. President’s Park and the Influence of the Warnecke Plan: 1948-1969 



Summary 


ested in the landscape of President's Park and helped guide its evolu- 
tion and use. Mrs. Kennedy was instrumental in continuing the 19th 
century tradition of concerts on the grounds. In an effort to encour- 
age the arts, she was responsible for the portable bandstand built for 
concerts. Lady Bird Johnson expanded the use of the grounds for 
entertaining and became deeply involved in efforts to beautify the 
city and the grounds of President's Park, particularly the Ellipse. 

Leading designers continued to contribute their talents to President's 
Park. Lorenzo Winslow oversaw the reconstruction of the White 
House in the early 1950s. Rachel Lambert Mellon, a friend of 
President and Mrs. Kennedy, redesigned both the east and west 
gardens. Edward Durell Stone Jr. designed the Children's Garden 
dedicated by Lyndon B. Johnson the day before he left office. John 
Carl Warnecke worked both on the redesign of Lafayette Park and 
the restoration of Lafayette Square. Though controversial at the time 
and perhaps flawed, given current standards, the result should be 
considered a major victory for historic preservation. 

Public use of President's Park continued to be a complex issue. The 
need for presidential security increased, particularly as civil unrest 
and anti-war demonstrations became common in Washington D.C. 
in the 1960s and 1970s. Lafayette Park continued to be "a gathering 
place both for individuals everyday, and for crowds at times of 
celebration, protest, or when something exciting transpires at the 
White House." 47 


47. Seale, "The Design of Lafayette Park," 19. 


316 

Part 1: The Evolution of President's Park 



317 

Chapter 7. I’ resident's Park and the Influence of the Warnecke Plan: 1 9-18 1 969 





Figure 7-2: Linden (Tilia cordata) Planted by Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Ahhir Rowe 
(photograph), ca. 1952. From "Re|>ort on the Carr and Rehabilitation of the Executive 
Mansion Incident to the Renovation of the White House, January, 1950, to May, 
1952," by Fanny Fern Davis, ca. 1952. National Park Service, Office of While House 
Liaison. 


318 

Part 1: The Evolution oe President's Park 








319 

Chapter 7. President':. Park anil the Influence of the Warnecke Plan: 1948-1969 


Figure 7-3: Moving a Magnolia grandiflora. Abbic Rowe (photograph), ca. 1952. From 
"Report on the Care anti Rehabilitation of the Executive Mansion Incident to the 
Renovation of the White House, January, 1950, to May, 1952," by Fanny Fern Davis, 
ca. 1952. National Park Service, Office of White House Liaison. 


nr 








*• '-tv ■ ■> 


. rz 




■ 










r 


. 0 ^' ^Co 

• KUf>Ft"‘D 
Si 


Figure 7-4: Delivery of Boxwood. Ahbie Rowe (photograph), ca. 1952. From "Report on the Care and Rehabilitation of the 
Executive Mansion Incident to the Renovation of the White House, January, 1950, to May, 1952," by Fanny-Fern Davis, 


ca. 1952. National Park Service, Office of Wliite House Liaison. 



320 

Part I: The Evolution of President's Park 




V 


Figure 7-5: Slope North of the East Terrace Showing Azaleas. Abbie Rowe (photograph), 1952. From "Report on the Care and 
Rehabilitation of the Executive Mansion Incident to the Renovation of the White House, January, 1950, to May, 1952," by 
Fanny-Fern Davis, ca. 1952. National Park Service, Office of White House Liaison. 


321 

Chapter 7 President's Park and the Influence of the Warnecke Plan 1948 1969 





lion of the Executive Mansion Incident to the Renovation of the White House, January, 1950, to May. 1952," by Fanny 


Fern Davis, ca. 1952. National Park Service, Office of White House Liaison. 



322 

Part I: The Evolution of President’s Parr 







Figure 7-7: East Garden with Dutch Tulips and Azaleas in flloom. Photograph, 1952. From "Report on 
the Care and Rehabilitation of the Executive Mansion Incident to the Renovation of the White House, 
January, 1950, to May, 1952," by Fanny Fern Davis, ca. 1952. National Park Service, Office of 
While House Liaison. 


323 

Chapter 7 . President's Park and the Influence of the Warnecke Plan 194ft 1969 





2F37T 


DIAGRAMMATIC 7 LAW \/i. 80-i'L ' AS 

Thl Wl ■: 7 Caxus-n 

III CVTIYl UAMV:?N ;aJUK - 


Figure 7-8: Diagrammatic Plan of the Rose Varieties, the West Carden; Azalea Planting at Bank North of the East Wing 
Connection. National Park Service, 1952. National Archives, Cartographic and Architectural Records, Records of the National 
Park Service, Record Group 79. 


324 

Part I Tur EvoumoN of President's Park 








Figure 7-9: The White House and Grounds from the Washington Monument. Abbie Rowe (photograph), ca. 1952. From "Report 
on the Care and Rehabilitation of the Executive Mansion Incident to the Renovation of the White House, lanuary, 1950, to 
May, 1952," by Fanny-Fern Davis, ca. 1952. National Park Service, Office of White House Liaison. 


325 

Chapter 7 President's Park and the Influence of the Warnecke Plan 1948 /969 







Figure 7-10: rutting Green, Upper South L,nvn, White House Grounds. Abbie Rowe (photograph), ca. 1955. National Park 
Service, Office of White House Liaison. 


326 

Part I: The Evolution of President's Park 






Figure 7-11: President Kennedy Addressing the National Council of the League of Women Voters in the Rose Garden. Abbie Rowe 
(photograph), May 196.1, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library. 



327 

Chapter 7 . President's Park and the Influence of the Warncckc Plan . 1948-1969 







Figure 7-12: Plan for Pennsylvania Avenue and Vicinity. President's Council on Pennsylvania Avenue, 1964. National 
Archives, Cartographic and Architectural Records, Records of Temporary Committees, Commissions and Boards, Record 
Group 220. 



328 

Pam I: Thi Evolution oi President's Park 




Figure 7-13: Priiir.it ion of the Jacqueline Kennedy Carden. Photograph, April 1965. Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential 
Library. 


329 

Chapter 7 President’s Park and the Influence of the Warneeke Plan 1948 1989 




■ - 


Figure 7-14: Pennsylvania Avenue Guard Shelter. Macomber and Peter, Architects (perspective design), 1962-63. From White 
House Fences and Construction, Abbie Rowe, 1962-63. National Park Service. Office of White House Liaison 


330 

Part 1: The Evolution of President’s Park 



Figure 7-15: Reconstruction of Fence and Sidewalk, Pennsylvania Avenue. Abbie Rowe (photograph), 1965. From While House 
Fences and Construction. National Park Service, Office of White House Liaison. 



331 

Chapter 7. President's rack and the Influence of the Warneeke Plan 1 948 1 969 







Figure 7-16: Children's Garden at the White House. Edward Diirell Stone Jr., 1969 National Park Service, Office of White 
House Liaison. 


332 

Part 1: The Evolution of President’s Park 


' 


>y.>W #*>*•** 





333 

Chapter 7. President’s Park and the Influence of the Warnecke Plan: 1948-1969 









Chapter 8. Maintaining and Refining 
President's Park: 1969-1994 


F ewer major modifications to the landscape of President's Park 
took place from 1969 to 1994. Emphasis has been on the 
upkeep of existing features and the maintenance of the 
healthy conditions of the grounds. 

In the early 1980s East Executive Avenue was closed to vehicular 
traffic; it was redesigned as a pedestrian mall in 1985-87 and re- 
named East Executive Park. On the White House grounds recrea- 
tional facilities were removed or added to match the interests of the 
presidents and their families. The Eisenhower putting green and the 
Roosevelt swimming pool were removed. The tennis court was en- 
larged, a new outdoor swimming pool was constructed, a tree house 
for Amy Carter was put up, a jogging track was installed along the 
edge of the south drive, and a new putting green was added. 

During this period presidents were not as actively engaged as some 
of their predecessors in the evolution of the landscape in President's 
Park. However, first ladies, particularly Pat Nixon and Hillary Rod- 
ham Clinton, continued the tradition of first family participation in 
modifying management practices and enhancing existing landscape 
features. All the administrations since that of John F. Kennedy have 
made extensive use of the grounds for entertaining guests, since the 
relatively small size of the White House limits its use for larger 
ceremonial dinners and festivities. 

Commemorative tree plantings continued, but the locations focused 
on where trees had been lost due to age, disease, or storms. To re- 
place elms killed by Dutch elm disease, more disease-resistant varie- 
ties were used. An important landscape consideration was the future 
of the American elm as a dominant tree throughout President's Park 
and the city in general. Dutch elm disease was identified in this 
country in the 1930s, becoming particularly epidemic in the 1940s, 
but elm losses in Washington peaked in the past 35 years of the 
century, claiming 10,000 elms. 1 


1 . Save The Elms Task Force, "Management Program for the Perpetuation of the 
American Elm Tree in the Nation's Capital," draft (Washington, DC: May 1, 1982), pp. 1-4, 
box 75, file Y 1815, ESF/WH1/NPS. 


335 

Chapter 8. Maintaining and Refining President's Park : 1969-1994 



The Grounds of Che White House 


Plans to remove the lodge in Lafayette Park and replace it with 
underground restrooms were not implemented. Neither were plans 
to replace the lighting system. The sidewalk around the park was 
repaved with brick to match the interior paths. The problem with 
dying trees was solved by reducing the squirrel population. 

A new visitor pavilion was added to the Ellipse in May 1994. Pro- 
posals were made to repair the Boy Scout Memorial, the Haupt 
fountains, and the Butt-Millet memorial fountain. A live tree on the 
north side of the Ellipse close to the Zero Milestone has become the 
National Christmas Tree. Azaleas were planted at Sherman Plaza in 
1983, and the following year new light standards were installed. 

From 1984 to 1994 security became an increasing concern not only 
on the White House grounds but also in nearby areas, such as 
Pennsylvania Avenue, Lafayette Park, and the Ellipse. Public use of 
President's Park continued with traditional activities, such as the 
Easter egg roll, Marine Band concerts, and demonstrations in 
Lafayette Park. New opportunities for the public included the highly 
popular White House gardens and grounds tours in the spring and 
fall and the summer Twilight Tattoo on the Ellipse. 

Privacy and security remained important considerations in the man- 
agement of President's Park, especially after cars crashed through 
gates on Pennsylvania Avenue All gates were replaced with similar 
ones built of sturdier materials. 


The Grounds of the White House 

Richard M. Nixon became president in 1969. At First Lady Pat 
Nixon's request the north and south fountains were kept illuminated 
year round, requiring the installation of water heaters; the White 
House and the flag were also illuminated, and the flag was flown 24 
hours a day. For the first time the gardens and grounds were open to 
the public one weekend in the spring and another in the fall (see 
figure 8-1), a tradition that has continued to the present. Mrs. Nixon 
also used the gardens frequently for entertaining guests. 2 

In 1970 the Eisenhower putting green and the Roosevelt swimming 
pool in the west colonnade were removed. A press room was built in 
place of the pool. The present porte cochttre at the north entrance to 
the West Wing was also added in 1970. The tennis court was 


2. Williams interview, Feb. 27, 1995. 


336 

Part I: The Evolution of President's Park 



The Grounds of the White House 


enlarged to standard size. In 1971 a flagstone terrace and a wooden 
fence were constructed next to the court. The maintenance building 
near the court was enlarged at about the same time. The Rose Garden 
was decorated for the wedding of Tricia Nixon and Edward Cox on 
June 12, 1971. White tree roses, madonna lilies, heliotrope, pink 
geraniums, and white petunias were planted in the borders, and 
Capitata yews were placed around the portico. 3 

President Nixon's commemorative trees were a giant sequoia planted 
near the south portico on May 5, 1971, and a fern-leaf beech planted 
on the north grounds near the entrance to the West Wing on April 
10, 1972. The giant sequoia died some time before 1994. 4 

In February 1973 an automobile crashed through one of the Penn- 
sylvania Avenue gates, stopping short of the north portico. In 1974 
an Army private landed a helicopter within the south fence. That 
same year, a man crashed a gate on Pennsylvania Avenue, holding 
the Secret Service off for four hours when it appeared he was wired 
with explosives. As a result in 1976 the last segment of Paulus Hedl's 
iron fence was removed and put in storage and was replaced with a 
modern replica in heavier materials as part of an overall White House 
barrier proposal. Later that same year a man in a truck attempted to 
ram the new gates, which withstood the impact. 5 

During the presidency of Gerald Ford, the present outdoor swimming 
pool and adjacent cabana were constructed south of the West Wing 
(figure 8-2). Numerous alternative designs were considered, 


3. NPS, "The President’s Garden," 68. Information on the portc coch^re at the main 
entrance to the West Wing is from ESF/WHL/NPS. The porte ccchire was designed by the 
National Park Service. The tennis court was resurfaced with Dynaturf. 

4. File on commemorative trees from the Kennedy through Carter administrations, Jan. 
19, 1979, OC/WH; Ted Knap, "Nixon's Tree a Tot Destined as Tallest" (newspaper clipping, 
newspaper and date not identified), OC/WH; Donnie Radcliffe, "How Their Garden Grows: 
The Legacy of First Ladies Lives in the Trees, Flowers and Shrubs," The Washington Post, 
May 12, 1994, OC/WH; NPS, "The White House Gardens and Grounds." 

5. Paul Hodge, "White House Gates To Be Replaced," The Washington Post, Feb. 26, 
1976; Ann Devroy and Pierre Thomas, "White House Security Has Been Breached Several 
Times Before," Washington Post, Sept. 13, 1994; Jeffrey Smith, "Note Reveals Suspect Was 
Ready To Die," Washington Post, Oct. 31, 1994; "Vehicle Barrier Proposal: White House 
Prepared," by Ronald Dickson (architect, NCP) and John Longworth (rivi] engineer, NCP), 
passim; assoc, dir. (WHL) to dir. (NCP), memorandum; "Environmental Assessment: 
White House Gates Project," n d.; Office of White House Liaison, "Environmental 
Assessment: White House Gates Project," Apr. 20, 1976, Gates fl/General Repairs/White 
House, box 69; Vikki to Fish, Dec. 17, 1976; Atkins to Teets, "Paramount Filming 
Request," Sept. 21, 1976; all in A721 7/Reading File (Aug. 1976-Dec. 1976), WHL-AM- 
010. Kelly to Lumbermens Mutual Casualty Co., Mar. 18, 1952, 950-13/Fences and 
Gates, box 4, acc. 64A-42, ESF/ARD/WH1VNPS. 


337 

Chapter 8. Maintaining and Refining President's Park: 1969-1994 



The Grounds of the While House 


including several for an elaborate enclosed pool. 6 Like her predecessor. 
First Lady Betty Ford enjoyed using the gardens for entertaining 
guests. 7 

On October 20, 1975, Mrs. Ford planted an American elm, the 
Bicentennial Tree, to the west of the north portico. The grounds 
maintenance facility was expanded in 1976, when the flagstone 
terrace and the wooden fence were constructed next to the tennis 
court. 8 On January 13, 1977, President Ford planted a white pine 
south of the East Wing. Both are still living. 9 

President Jimmy Carter planted two commemorative trees during his 
presidency that are still living: a red maple on the north grounds 
near the northeast entrance on November 17, 1977, and a cedar of 
Lebanon on the western Jefferson mound on April 28, 1978. 10 The 
red maple replaced an American elm that President Wilson had 
planted on December 18, 1913, but that had died of Dutch elm 
disease. First Lady Rosalynn Carter planted a threadleaf Japanese 
maple northeast of the south fountain on April 13, 1978. President 
Carter also had a tree house built for his daughter Amy. A free- 
standing rather than a conventional structure, the tree house stood 
on the ground among the lower branches of a Blue Atlas cedar on 
the west Jefferson mound. 11 

In addition to commemorative trees, numerous other trees were 
planted, some of them to replace elms killed by Dutch elm disease. 
Most of these were replaced by a more disease-resistant strain called 
American elm 'Horace Wester.' On May 9, 1977, a severe windstorm 
caused a European linden on the north grounds to fall, severely 
damaging another European linden so that it had to be removed. 


6. Photographs and other documents at D2215 and D32, ESF/WHI/NPS. 

7. Williams interview, Feb. 27, 1995. 

8. NPS, "Reservation No. 1: White House Grounds and Ellipse," by Elizabeth Barthold, 
Historic American Buildings Survey, HABS no. DC-689 (Washington, DC, 1993), 3. 

9. Williams interview, Feb. 27, 1995; file on presidential commemorative trees, Jan. 19, 
1979, OC/WH; "The White House Gardens and Grounds,” map [Clinton administration). 
The fern-leaf beech docs not appear on the map or list. 

10. File on presidential commemorative trees, Jan. 19, 1979, OC/WH; NPS, "The White 
House Gardens and Grounds." 

11. NPS, "The Executive Residence and Grounds” (Denver: Denver Service Center, 1981); 
Radcliffe, "How Their Garden Grows." A picture of the tree house is in the NPS report. 


338 

Part 1: The Evolution of President's Park 



Both the Rose Garden and the Jacqueline Kennedy Garden were 
planted seasonally with a variety of bulbs and annuals. 1:1 

During the first term of the Reagan presidency additional plantings 
were made. On May 13, 1982, First Lady Nancy Reagan planted two 
white saucer magnolias on either side and slightly to the north of the 
north fountain. These replaced the magnolias put in at the time of 
the 1952 renovation of the grounds. In April 1983 three hybrid type 
American elms were substituted for the lost elms on the north side of 
the grounds. On April 14 and April 20, 1984, two diseased fern-leaf 
beeches on the north grounds were replaced with two new ones of 
the same variety, a gift of Mrs. Paul Mellon. On August 5, 1984, a 
huge bur oak dating from the 19th century had to be taken out on 
the north grounds. In December 1984 President Reagan planted a 
commemorative sugar maple on the north grounds at the entrance 
to the West Wing from West Executive Avenue to replace an English 
elm that had to be removed. A seedling of the John Quincy Adams 
elm was planted beneath its parent on the east Jefferson mound on 
March 31, 1982, as a future replacement. On April 14, 1983, a black 
gum was put in to replace a declining European beech on the west 
Jefferson mound. On August 8, 1981, and August 16, 1982, two 
American elms were removed in the southern part of the grounds 
and replaced with hybrid American elms on November 16, 1984. 13 

The Rose Garden was renovated in 1981 under the guidance of Irvin 
Williams. There were discussions with Mrs. Mellon about modifying 
the design of the garden since it had become overly shady. In the end 
major changes were not implemented, but more roses and other 
flowers were planted at the request of First Lady Nancy Reagan, 
among them a Nancy Reagan hybrid tea rose and a Pat Nixon 
floribunda rose. The crab apple trees were pruned, and the 
osmanthus holly trees were clipped back to let in more light. New 
true dwarf English boxwood borders were planted to replace the 
greenpillow boxwood edging. The Rose Garden was back in use in 
August 1981. In 1982 the Jacqueline Kennedy Garden was 
rehabilitated as well, with no change to its basic design. The existing 
Kingsville boxwood was replaced with greenpillow boxwood, and the 
Washington hawthorn was removed and replaced with Elaeagnus 


12. NPS, 'The Executive Residence and Grounds;" NPS, "Gardens of the White House 
Grounds” (Denver Service Center, 1979). 

13. NPS, The White House Grounds and Gardens, 1980-1984 (Denver Service Center, 1984); 
NPS, "The White House Gardens and Grounds." 


The Grounds of the White House 


339 

Chapter 8. Maintaining and Refining President's Park: 1969-1994 



ITte Grounds of the White House 


shrubs to frame the trellis window. The floral patterns and colors 
were changed to display shades from white to pastel yellows. 14 

Another important project between 1980 and 1984 was the exten- 
sion of the grounds maintenance building near the tennis court, 
begun during the Carter administration and completed by August 

1983. In 1984 the boxwoods at the East Wing were replaced with 
smaller boxwoods in a flowing, curvilinear pattern. 15 At the end of 
President Reagan's first term, Irvin Williams was named super- 
intendent of grounds. 16 

Much landscaping activity occurred during the second Reagan term. 
In May 1988 a willow oak replaced the large bur oak removed in 

1984. On September 10, 1986, the giant sequoia that President 
Nixon had planted on the south grounds in 1971 was removed. In 
April 1987 Nellie R. Stevens hollies were planted along the east 
perimeter fence near the southeast gate, the existing rhododendrons 
were replaced with Delaware Valley white azaleas, and additional 
wintercreeper was put in as ground cover. On October 7, 1987, a 
silver Atlas cedar on the east Jefferson mound replaced a former 
specimen that had blown down several years earlier. A heavy storm 
on May 24, 1988, broke off a huge branch from an American elm 
near the tennis court. The limb fell across the court and destroyed a 
saucer magnolia and two American hollies. They were replaced in 
June with Nellie R. Stevens hollies and a star magnolia. On October 
24, 1988, President Reagan planted a commemorative 14-year-old 
willow oak on the south grounds not far from the Jacqueline 
Kennedy Garden. It replaced a scarlet oak that was planted in 1955 
and removed in August 1988 because of disease. 17 All the Reagan 
commemorative trees were extant as of 1994. 

In September 1985 the east and west service drives on the north 
grounds were resurfaced with asphalt, and the oval in front of the 
West Wing was modified. In 1987 the south grounds roadway was 


1 4. Rachel Lambert Mellon, "The White House Rose Garden: Photographed at the Peak of 
Its Spring Color, The Garden Design for President Kennedy Has .Just Been Restored at the 
Request of President and Mrs. Ronald Reagan," House and Garden (Sept. 1984), 121-28, 
251-53. Except for the last few paragraphs, which deal with the Reagan restoration, this 
article is the same as that published in White House History', vol. 1, no. 1 (1983), 4-1 1 . New 
photographs were also included. Williams interview, Feb. 27, 1995; NP5, The White House 
Grounds and Gardens, 1 984-1 988. 

1 5 . NPS, The White House Grounds and Gardens, 1 984-1 988. 

16. Williams interview, Feb. 27, 1995. 

17. NPS, The White House Grounds and Gardens, 1984-1988: Williams interview, Feb. 27, 
1995. 


340 

PARTI: THE EVOLUTION OF PRESIDENT'S PARK 



The Grounds of the White House 


also resurfaced with asphalt. The same year the asphalt on the 
roadway under the east portico was removed to expose the earlier 
cobblestone drive. In 1986 improvements were made to the Chil- 
dren's Garden: a pathway was built leading out to the west, Nellie R. 
Stevens hollies were added to enhance the feeling of enclosure, 
azaleas and liriope were planted for color, and the Stayman Winesap 
apple tree was replaced with a Red Delicious variety. The south 
fountain was repaired in 1987. Sod was replaced in the south 
grounds in 1987 and 1988. In August 1988 the swimming pool and 
deck were repaired. Leyland cypress were planted west of the pool. 
They were at least 20 feet tall and had root balls about 8 feet in 
diameter. Irvin Williams had found them in a farmer's field as a 
hedgerow. The trees were numbered and installed in the same config- 
uration as they grew, providing an instant hedge to screen the pool 
from the Old Executive Office Building. 18 New plants placed around 
the pool, included azaleas, hollies, and ground cover. 1 '’ 

In 1986 the President's Patio and the west patio (or the Chief of 
Staff's Patio), two small and private spaces for the relaxation of the 
president and his staff, were built south of the West Wing. The 
President's Patio features stone paving, steps, and walls, including a 
high wall on the west side, with a lion's head fountain over a small 
pool. The plantings include Japanese maples, hollies, azaleas, ground 
cover, and annual and perennial beds. The west patio has a white 
arbor and stonework paving. Plantings consist of red maples, horn- 
beams, azaleas, and Japanese hollies. 20 

During the Reagan administration, especially in the wake of another 
bomb explosion in the Capitol, a number of security measures were 
implemented. In 1982-84 a new visitor entry building with metal 
detectors and other security equipment was built south of the East 
Wing. The building was opened to use on May 28, 1984, and the 
landscaping was completed the following October. In 1983-84 the 
guard booths at the northwest and southwest gates and at the East 
Wing were extended to incorporate security magnetometers. 11 
Numerous articles appeared in the press in 1983 about threats to 
White House security and the various steps being taken, including 


18. NPS, The White House Grounds and Gardens, 1984-1988. Information on the pool hedge 
is courtesy of Carol Whipple (Denver Service Center 1DSC), NPS). 

1 9 . Package 422, box 1 6 7, ESF/WH1/NP5. 

20. Package 422, hox 167, ESF/WHI/NPS. 

21 . The architects were Wiley and Wilson of Richmond, Virginia. Wold Von Eckardt, "A 
New White House Entrance," Time, June 28, 1982, 68; NPS, The White House Grounds and 
Gardens, 1980-1984. 


341 

Chapter 8 Maintaining and Refining President's Park: 1 969-1 994 



The Grounds of the White House 


dump trucks filled with sand blocking entrances to the grounds and 
barricades along Pennsylvania Avenue. 22 In 1984 John Carl 
Warnecke recommended that Pennsylvania Avenue be closed and a 
tunnel be built in front of the White House; the abandoned street 
would become a landscaped pedestrian way. 23 Perhaps in response to 
this proposal, newspaper articles appeared about closing 
Pennsylvania Avenue. 24 

The permanent closure of East Executive Avenue to vehicular traffic 
was preceded by decades of discussion and design proposals. In the 
1960s the architectural firm of Nicholas Satterlee had prepared plans 
for a landscaped pedestrian mall, which were not implemented. These 
recommendations were reconsidered in the late 1970s. 25 To test the 
new concept, East Executive Avenue and Alexander Hamilton Place 
had both been closed to all but official traffic in April 1983. 
Following the success of the temporary closing, plans and sketches 
were prepared. 26 In the final design, a grass panel replaced much of 
the former roadway, although a narrow asphalt road for vehicle 
access remained on the east and a pedestrian walk on the west. 
Willow oaks were planted, and round planters filled with seasonal 
flowers were installed along the pedestrian walkway. Benches, 
bollard lighting, and black wrought-iron security gates were also 
part of the design. The project was begun in September 1985 and 
completed by February 1987. 27 In 1987 the Secret Service requested 


22. Maijorie Hunter, "Shadow over White House Security," New York Times, May 12, 
1983; Martin Weil and Michael Martinez, "Trucks at White House for 'Security Reasons,'" 
Washington Post, Nov. 23, 1983, Bl, B4; "Barricades," Washington Post, Dec. 28, 1983; 
Devroy and Thomas, "White House Security Has Been Breached Several Times Before." 

23. John Carl Warnecke, "Current White House Problems of Security, Traffic and 
Appearance: An Historical Analysis and Planning Proposal," (Washington, DC) Apr. 1, 
1984. 

24. Stephen Engelberg, "How Secure Must 'the People's House' Be?" New Pori: Times, Apr. 
26, 1985. 

25. NPS, "Chronology," 119811; NPS, "East Executive Avenue Closing," 11981); NPS, "The 
Relationship between D.C. Department of Transportation and the National Park Service Re: 
Closing East Executive Avenue," Sept. 14, 1981; NPS, "East Executive Avenue Closing," 
(19811; all in box 72, ESF/WHL/NPS. The media paid much aifention to the closing of East 
Executive Avenue. See "Traffic as It Used to Be," Washington Post, June 5, 1983; Kenneth 
Brcdemeier, "East Executive Avc., Goodbye," Washington Post, Dec. 7, 1984; Marcia Slacum 
Greene, "Pedestrian Mall Being Built Between White House, Treasury," Wcishington Post, 
Feb. 8, 1985. The concept design for the new pedestrian way was by Merrick Smith, a 
landscape architect with the Denver Service Center of the National Park Service 
(DSC/NPS), which executed the detailed design 

26. “Redevelopment of East Executive Avenue Design Analysis," n.d.; "East Executive 
Avenue Closing," Aug. 10, 1982; "East Executive Avenue. Consultation between the National 
Park Service and Treasury Department," May 27, 1983; all in file A7217, box DC-013, 
ESF/WHL/NPS. 

27. NPS, The White House Grounds and Gardens, 1 984-1 988. 


342 


PARTI: THE EVOLUTION OF PRESIDENT'S PARK 



the removal of the trash receptacles along East Executive Avenue, 
feeling that they could be used as hiding places for bombs. They were 
replaced with a new kind of receptacle with a locking lid. 28 

In 1988 there was increasing concern about West Executive Avenue, 
which had been closed to through-traffic for many years but which 
was becoming congested with traffic coming into the West Wing and 
the Old Executive Office Building. Insufficient parking was available 
for the workers in these buildings, and West Executive Avenue was 
taking on the appearance of a parking lot. 29 This condition remained 
in 1994. 

The Pennsylvania Avenue bollards project was also carried out in 
1 988. Exposed-aggregate concrete bollards were installed to replace 
the concrete barriers that had extended along Pennsylvania Avenue 
from East Executive Park to West Executive Avenue. The project also 
involved new granite curbs, edging, and restored street lights; it was 
completed in October 1988. 30 

Several commemorative trees were planted during the administration 
of George Bush. In 1989 President Bush planted a Patmore ash on the 
south grounds near the drive leading to the southeast entrance to the 
grounds. He planted an eastern redbud to the rear of the visitor 
pavilion in 1990, and in 1991 a Rivers purple beech on the northern 
slope of the east Jefferson mound. On May 14, 1991, President Bush 
and Queen Elizabeth II of England, who was in Washington for a 
state visit, planted a small-leaved linden on the south lawn, replacing 
one Franklin D. Roosevelt had planted in 1937 to commemorate the 
coronation of her father, King George VI. Because the John Quincy 
Adams elm had to be taken down. First Lady Barbara Bush planted 
an American elm grafted from the Adams elm on the east Jefferson 
mound on December 5, 1991. The replacement American elm was 
planted in almost exactly the same spot as the original. When the. 
John Quincy Adams elm was taken down, a chipper was brought in. 
Rather than being allowed to rot away over a period of time, as often 
happens, the entire root system of the old elm was removed at once. 
Scions, seedlings, and grafts had been harvested from the original 


28. Vance Fisher, memorandum for the record, Del. 21, 1987; assoc, reg. dir. (WHL) to 
reg. dir. (NCR), Nov. 24, 1987; Carol Whipple (WHL), memorandum for the record, Dec. 

28. 1987; Vance Fisher, memorandum to the record, Feb. 1, 1988; McDaniel to Clint L. 
Howard (special agent-in-charge, U. S. Secret Service), March 17, 1988; all in PRPK-460, 
box 167, ESF/WHL/NPS. The trash receptacles, called the Pennsylvania Avenue 
receptacles, were made by Canterbury International, Sherman Oaks, California. 

29. Smith (DSC/NPS) to McDaniel (WHL/NPS), May 17, 1988, ESF/WHL/NPS. 

30. NP5, The White House Grounds and Cardens, 1 984-1 988. 


The Grounds of the White House 


343 

Chapter 8. Maintaining and Refining President's Park: 1 969-1994 



The Grounds of the White House tree for some time and propagated at Princeton Nurseries in New 

Jersey. 31 All the commemorative trees planted during the Bush 
administration were still living as of 1994. 

In 1989 a new flagstone walk was installed in the Rose Garden to 
correct turf damage during special events. A similar flagstone walk 
was added at the same time in the Children's Garden. Between June 
and July 1991 the West Wing entranceway was redesigned to 
regrade and allow for handicap accessibility. New paving, curbs, 
drainage structures, planters, and a revision to the parking layout on 
West Executive Avenue were carried out. That same year the pedes- 
trian walk on the north grounds driveway was renovated, necessi- 
tating the removal and replacement of large Japanese yews. A 
European linden on the north grounds was blown down during a 
thunderstorm in 1992. A ring count showed the tree to be 152 years 
old, dating the other European lindens on the north grounds to 
about 1840. Between 1989 and 1992 the peripheral plantings on the 
southernmost grounds were renovated and augmented extensively. 
Several dogwoods died in this period because of the new fungal blight 
(Discula anthracnose) and were replaced with resistant cultivars. 
Nellie R. Stevens hollies and American hollies were added along the 
east and west perimeters of the south grounds. 32 

The swimming pool during this period is shown in figure 8-3. Also, 
a private donor contributed a three-quarter sized bronze stag, which 
is displayed in the area behind the swimming pool cabana near the 
President's Patio. 33 A horseshoe court was constructed near the 
southeast end of the pool deck in 1989 to allow the president to 
pursue his favorite activity (see figure 8-4). Helleri hollies were 
planted nearby in an informal hedge, and a yellow-fruited American 
holly was added for winter interest. 3 ' 1 A new putting green (donated 
by a private contractor) and a partial basketball court were put in 


31. NPS, "The White House Gardens and Grounds"; Radcliffe, "How Their Garden 
Grows"; The White House Grounds and Gardens, 1988-1992; Barbara Bush, Barbara Bush: A 
Memoir (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1994), 415; Williams interview, Feb. 27, 1995. 

32. NPS, White House Grounds and Gardens, 1988-1992, 8-10; information on West Wing 
entranceway redesign provided by Carol Whipple (DSC/NPS). Merrick Smith did the initial 
concept sketch and Whipple carried out the final design and construction documents. The 
work was completed from 6:00 P.M. to 3:00 A.M. using NCR-Brentwood "day" labor forces, 
as Chief of Staff John Sununu did not like the dirt and noise during the day. 

33. Information from O’Brien (DSC/NPS) and McDaniel (WHiyNPS). The Office of the 
Curator at the White House has limited information about the bronze stag. 

34. NPS, "Proposed Sites for Horseshoe Pit Court," Nov. 1988; Harriet Johnson Brackey, 
"Horseshoe Makers Hope for Presidential Pitch," USA Today, |Nov.?] 1988; both in file 49.0, 
box 1 56, ESF/WHL/NPS; NPS, The White House Grounds and Gardens, 1 988-1 992, 9-10. 


344 

Part 1: The Evolution up President's Park 



The Grounds of the White House 


near the tennis court in 1991. 35 In 1991 after a parade down Penn- 
sylvania Avenue to mark the end of Desert Storm, veterans and their 
families were invited to a picnic on the Ellipse. In 1992 to com- 
memorate the 200th anniversary of the laying of the White House 
cornerstone a time capsule was installed at the southwest corner of 
the Executive Residence. Designed by Norman Koonce, it consists of a 
bronze plaque on a granite base. 

After William Jefferson Clinton became president in 1993, a jogging 
track was installed along the edge of the south drive. The jogging 
track, built with donated funds, was placed within the existing 
footprint of the drive, so that no widening was necessary. During a 
storm in 1993, a magnolia branch fell on the wooden pergola in the 
Jacqueline Kennedy Garden; the pergola was rebuilt. In 1993 
President and Mrs. Clinton planted three trees in locations where 
commemorative trees had been lost: a small-leaved linden near the 
West Wing, an American elm to the northwest of the south 
fountain, and a willow oak to the east of the south fountain (figure 
8-5). In 1994 First Lady Hillary Clinton planted three white 
dogwood trees in the triangle of land between the transverse drive 
and the western branch of the south drive. 36 

Early in the Clinton administration, landscape architect R. Merrick 
Smith made a study of the White House grounds, addressing such 
issues as privacy and the south lawn, the possible addition of 
volleyball courts, and East Executive Park. Screening for privacy 
continued to be a particular concern. At the time the report was 
written some temporary measures had been adopted to provide more 
privacy, such as setting plants in large containers along the south- 
western edge of the transverse road (see figure 9-1 8). 37 

In the spring of 1994 Mrs. Clinton, as honorary chairman of the 
Committee for the Preservation of the White House, initiated a pro- 
gram to exhibit contemporary American sculpture in the Jacqueline 
Kennedy Garden. In conjunction with the Association of Art Museum 
Directors, J. Carter Brown (a member of the preservation committee, 


35. NFS, White House Grounds and Gardens, 1 988-199 2, 10. 

36. NFS, "The White House Gardens and Grounds"; White House Historical Association, 
The White House : An Historic Guide (Washington, DC: While House Historical Association, 
with the cooperation of the National Geographic Society, 1994), map on pp. 154-55; team 
site visit to White House grounds with Ludy Schneider, Dec. 12, 1994. Additional 
information from McDaniel (WHL/NFS). 

37. Smith (D5C/NPS), "Report,” |ca. spring 1993], ESF/WHL/NPS. The south bollards 
proiect along E Street was completed in April 1993; information from Krause 
(ESF/WHL/NPS). 


345 

Chapter 8. Maintaining and Refining President's Park: 1 969-1 994 



The Grounds of the White House 


chairman of the Commission of Fine Arts, and director emeritus of 
the National Gallery) explored possibilities and conceived the idea of 
dividing the country into regions from which various museums and 
public collections might lend sculptures on a rotating basis to the 
White House for six months. George W. Neubert, director of the 
Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery and Sculpture Garden at the 
University of Nebraska at Lincoln, was then asked to prepare an 
exhibition drawn from the collections of Midwest museums. The 
first exhibition opened in October 1994, featuring 12 works of art 
produced over more than 70 years of the 20th century. Among the 
sculptors represented were Alexander Calder, Ellsworth Kelly, Gaston 
Lachaise, Paul Manship, Louise Nevelson, and George Segal. The Iris 
and B. Gerald Cantor Foundation sponsored the exhibition with the 
cooperation of the Committee for the Preservation of the White 
House and the White House Historical Association. To make room 
for the exhibit, a statue of a girl holding a plant and a watering can, 
sculpted by Silvia Shaw Judson, was removed from the east garden 
and placed in storage. 38 

Because of several events in the fall and winter of 1994 — an 
airplane crash on the south lawn near the south portico and two 
shootings at the White House — security measures were once again 
thoroughly reevaluated. In the plane crash of September 13, 1994, 
one of the Jackson magnolias lost a limb about 6-8 inches in 
diameter, as well as some bark. 39 

Thanks in large part to the long tenure of Irvin Williams as super- 
intendent of grounds at the White House, a consistent policy has 
been followed in regard to commemorative tree plantings and the 
care of the grass and trees. Commemorative tree plantings are largely 
undertaken to replace major specimen trees that have been lost to 
disease, age, or natural disaster. As far as possible, the same kind of 
tree is planted to replace the missing one. American elms receive the 
same care as the other trees on the grounds: they are pruned using 
sterile tools, sprayed with a 1% oil spray, and fed three pounds of 
10-6-4 fertilizer every three years. They are not injected against 
Dutch elm disease. In almost all cases, American elms are replaced 
with American elms. Sometimes more disease-resistant hybrids such 
as Horace Wester have been used. In other cases, as with the John 
Quincy Adams elm, seedlings or grafts from original trees on the 
grounds have been used. A few replacement elms have been seedlings 


38. Judith Weinraub, "First Lady Finds Niche for Art," Washington Post , Oct. 12, 1994; 
"Twentieth Century American Sculpture at The White House, An Exhibition," Washington, 
D C., Oct. 1 994; information about the Judson statue from Irv Williams, October 2001 . 

39. Information from McDaniel (WHiyNPS). 


346 

Part I: Ti ie Evolution of President's Park 



Lafayette Park 


of a remarkable American elm near the Tidal Basin that appears to be 
immune to Dutch elm disease. Since Washington, D. C., is in an area 
that is a bit too far north for southern grasses and too far south for 
northern grasses, maintaining the lawns has always been difficult. 
Various solutions have been tried, but for some time fescue has been 
used on both the north and south grounds and has worked out 
well. 40 


Lafayette Park 

In the early 1970s, as a part of various projects in Washington to 
celebrate the bicentennial of American independence, proposals were 
made to remove the lodge in Lafayette Park and replace it with 
underground restrooms. Nothing came of these proposals, although 
the existing lodge was renovated in 1980. 4 ’ Controversy regarding 
the removal of the lodge continued into the 1990s. Most of the 
statues in Lafayette Park were restored during this period. 

In 1982 a proposal was made to replace the lighting system in 
Lafayette Park, which had not been part of the renovation that took 
place in 1969-70. The existing lights, dating from the 1930s, had 
become extremely difficult to repair. It was proposed to replace them 
with a Washington type 14N cast-iron post with a 150-watt high- 
pressure sodium lamp of a type in use on the south grounds of the 
White House. This particular style had been approved in 1934 and 
had the "acorn" type lamp typical of the period. 42 

The interior paths in Lafayette Park were resurfaced with brick in the 
1969-70 renovation, but the sidewalk around the perimeter was not, 
since this sidewalk was the responsibility of the District of Columbia, 
not the National Park Service. In the early 1980s this decision was 
reexamined, and in 1983 the perimeter sidewalk along Pennsylvania 


40. Williams interview, Feb. 27, 1995. The American elm on the Tidal Basin has been 
inoculated with Dutch elm disease but has not contracted it. As Mr. Williams says, 'This 
may be the American elm of the future!" As of February 1 995, Mr. Williams supervises 1 4 
to 15 staff, some on the grounds and some, including masons, on the buildings 

41 . Document box 30 of 31, box 10, ESF/WH1/NPS; also D 24. 

42. Pete Gill to McDaniel, June 28, 1982, with illustrations of various sizes of 
Washington types of street lights; "Lafayette Park Lighting System: Proposal," July 27, 
1982; both in box 72, ESF/WUL/NPS. There are also undated photographs of lights in 
Lafayette Park in box 89. This proposal, however, was not implemented. 


347 

Chapter 8. Maintaining and Refining President's Park: 1969-1994 



President's Park South 


Avenue was repaved with brick. Since then Madison and Jackson 
Places and H Street have also been repaved with brick. 43 

In 1982 the replacement of missing trees in Lafayette Park "compat- 
ible with squirrel habitat" became controversial. Most of the missing 
trees were in the northwest section of the park. Recommended re- 
placements included Kousa dogwood, white oak, sugar maple, 
shagbark hickory, and American holly. 44 There was considerable con- 
troversy during this period over squirrel damage to the parks in 
Washington, which generated research on urban wildlife by the 
Center for Urban Ecology. 45 Limiting the squirrel population has 
been beneficial to the trees that have successfully recovered. 

In 1990 a proposal was made to repair the fountains in Lafayette 
Park. 46 


President's Park South 

In 1954 the location of the National Christmas Tree had been moved 
to the Ellipse, and up to 1973 a cut tree from a different state was 
used each year. Since then a live tree has been planted. The tree 
stands on the north side of the Ellipse, close to the Zero Milestone but 
slightly off-axis to the east. Mr. and Mrs. William E. Meyers of 
York, Pennsylvania, donated a 30-foot Colorado blue spruce in 
1978. 47 A replacement Colorado blue spruce has been planted on the 
Ellipse as a backup. 48 

In 1969 as a result of President Nixon's decision to cut back all 
federal construction funds, previous plans to landscape the area west 
of the Ellipse, including the Zalles-Saul and the Henraux-Becker 
fountains, were stopped. At Mrs. Zalles's insistence, an effort was 
made to include the project as part of the Bicentennial program, but 


43. Assoc, solicitor (conservation and wildlife, NFS) to solicitor, Aug. 7, 1981, box 66, 
ESF/WHL/NPS; NPS, "Plan for Sidewalk Replacement, Lafayette Park," Aug. 24, 1983, 
Whipple, box 168, ESF/WHL/NPS. 

44. Carolyn O'Hara, memorandum for the record, with list of trees and sketch map, May 
7, 1982, box 61, ESF/WH1/NPS. It is not clear whether the recommended trees were 
planted. 

45. Information from McDaniel (WHL/NPS). 

46. "Repair Fountains, President's Park," Oct. 26, 1990, approved Aug. 27, 1991, file 
PRPK-827, box 175, ESF/WHL/NPS. 

47. OC/WH. 

48. Information from McDaniel (WHL/NPS). 


348 

Part I: The Evolution of Presidf.nt's Park 



President's Park South 


Congress failed to authorize the required funds, which had been 
estimated to be approximately $356,300. However, on May 5, 1976, 
the bronze plaque in honor of John Saul was placed in the northwest 
quadrant of the Ellipse along E Street. Early in 1979 Mrs. Zalles 
donated $13,000 to beautify the area of President's Park in the 
vicinity of the visitor kiosk. At this time she requested that the 
National Park Service move the Saul memorial plaque to its current 
location northwest of the Ellipse visitor pavilion along E Street.' 19 

In April 1976 in conjunction with the Bicentennial celebration, the 
White House visitor program officially started. The ticketing system 
for White House tours became necessary to accommodate the in- 
creasing numbers of visitors. The initial program consisted of ticket 
distribution for timed tours, continuous entertainment, and covered 
bleacher seating on the eastern half of the Ellipse from April to 
October. Several small facilities were built to accommodate the needs 
of visitors waiting for tours. The NPS octagonal shaped kiosk 
provided information. At an adjacent kiosk gifts and souvenirs were 
sold. Farther south, steps led to underground restrooms. Even farther 
south refreshments were provided at a nondescript building. 50 

In 1987 a proposal was made to redesign the Christmas Pageant of 
Peace and to move it to the eastern side of the Ellipse; the proposal 
was not implemented. 51 By Christmas 1994 the Pageant of Peace 
included small Christmas trees representing each state in the Union, 
as well as the five territories and the District of Columbia, a yule log, 
live Luray deer (instead of reindeer), a nativity scene, and music. 52 
The temporary structures necessary for this display intruded on the 
central north-south vista. 

During the 1970s the mosaic floor around the base of the Sherman 
statue was repaired, solving a problem that had persisted since 1906 
when frost caused cracks in the floor. Repairs in 1925, 1929, and 
1947 had consisted mostly of filling cracks and relaying loose marble 
tile on a restored concrete bed. By 1974 the National Park Service 
decided to replace the marble mosaic floor with a different material 
and foundation that could still retain most, if not all, of the qualities 
of the original design. Consequently, it was decided to recreate the 


49. Author unknown, "History of Two Marble Fountains," Apr. 20, 1988; "Zalles 
Fountain 1975,” WHL-7BP-06, Records of the Director, ESF/WHL/NPS. 

50. Information courtesy of Krause (WHL/NPS), June 15, 2000. 

51. Park manager (President's Park) to assoc, rcg. dir. (Professional Services), et al., June 
1, 1987, file PRPK-815, box 1 75, ESF/WHL/NPS. 

52. Site visit, Zaitzevsky, Dec. 18, 1994, including information on a sign about the 40th 
year of the Pageant of Peace. 


349 

Chapter 8. Maintaining and Refining President's Park: 1 969-199-1 



President's Park South design and colors of the original in terrazzo. The work was com- 

pleted in 1976. 55 In October 1983 azaleas were added at Sherman 
Plaza, and the following year new Millet lampposts were installed. 54 

In 1988 parking problems in President's Park led to a reconsideration 
of the 1967 plan by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill for an underground 
garage beneath the Ellipse. 55 In 1979 a proposal was made to close 
Alexander Hamilton Place and to merge the grounds of the Treasury 
and those of Sherman Plaza, but it was not accepted. 56 

In 1990 recommendations were made to repair the fountain at the 
Boy Scout Memorial, the Haupt fountains, and the Butt-Millet 
fountain, in conjunction with other work on fountains in President's 
Park. Because the Butt-Millet fountain lacked a foundation, it did not 
sit level with the ground, preventing an even water flow over the 
basin and causing the growth of fungus. 57 

Sherman Plaza underwent major rehabilitation in 1991. The 
National Park Service contracted with the Pennsylvania Avenue 
Development Corporation to renovate the site. The primary objective 
was to completely replace the deteriorated sidewalks with precast 
concrete London pavers and granite trim and to replace all other 
walkways with gray exposed-aggregate concrete. Twelve new cast- 
iron Millet-style light fixtures were installed, plus park benches, 
trash receptacles, and a drinking fountain. The flowers and plants 
around the plaza were also reinstalled. Bordering the sidewalks on 
each side of the statue are rows of low deciduous shrubs that enclose 
beds of Japanese holly. At corner entrances to the plaza are azalea 
beds. The Japanese holly were new to Sherman Plaza, but the azaleas 
were probably first planted in the 1 960s. 58 


53. Thursby, "Sherman Statue, 1 ' 50-51. 

54. Darwina L. Neal (landscape architect, Design Services, NCR) to park manager (Presi- 
dent's Park), Dec. 8, 1982; contracting officer (NCR) to Harold Hagen (project inspector), 
Oct. 12, 1983, re: planting projects at Sherman Park and other parks; Ralph R. Ross (chief, 
Div. of Contracting) to Spring City Electrical Mfg . Co., Spring City, PA, re: notification of 
award, Sept. 27, 1984; all in box 67, ESF/WHL/NPS 

55. Merrick Smith to McDaniel, May 1 7, 1988, with attached sections of the Skidmore, 
Owings &. Merrill proposal and plans, file PRPK-455, box 1 75, ESF/WHL/NPS. 

56. "Pennsylvania Avenue Development Area. Sherman Park and Treasury Terrace, 15th 
and E Streets, NW, Executive Director's Recommendation,” May 25, 1979, box 76, 
ESF/WHL/NPS. 

57. "Repair Fountains, President's Park," Oct. 26, 1990, approved Aug. 27, 1991, file 
PRPK-827, box 1 75, ESF/WHL/NPS. 

58. Thursby, "Sherman Statue," 52-53. 


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Part I: Tut Evolution of President's Park 



In May 1994 a new temporary visitor pavilion designed by Mary 
Oehriein and Associates was dedicated on the northeast side of the 
Ellipse (figure 8-6). It replaced the kiosk that had been installed 
during the Lyndon Johnson administration. The facility provides 
information, underground restrooms, handicapped accessible facili- 
ties at the first floor, plus a gift shop and snack bar. 59 


The Grounds of the Treasury Building 

In 1985 Arthur Cotton Moore prepared an unsolicited proposal for 
the Treasury's south plaza as part of an "Aesthetic Master Plan." 
This plan was never implemented. 60 In the late 1980s the portion of 
Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the Treasury was improved, and 
willow oaks were planted there. The original installation did not do 
well, and the area was replanted. 61 


The Grounds of the Old Executive Office Building 

In 1984 the Old Executive Office Building received two cannon on 
loan from the Smithsonian Institution. Cast in Seville, Spain in 1875, 
they were captured by the United States Navy on May 1, 1898, from 
the Spanish arsenal at Cavete in the Philippine Islands after the defeat 
of the Spanish naval squadron in Manila Bay. They may have been 
among the 29 pieces of ordnance displayed around the former State, 
War, and Navy Building between about 1900 and 1943. 62 

In 1984 the Department of the Navy, Navy Historical Center, 
Washington Navy Yard, lent two anchors (LI 984 A and B) to the 


59. Barthold, "White House Grounds and Ellipse," 17; dedication information from 
Krause (ESF/WHL./NPS) 

60. Information from McDaniel (WHL/NPS). Scott and Lee, Buildings of the District of 
Columbia, 157, incorrectly state that the Moore plan was carried out. Arthur Cotton Moore 
Associates, "Aesthetic Master Plan of the Treasury Building and Annex Building, 
Department of the Treasury, Washington, D.C." (Washington, D.C., 1985). 

61. "Summary of Pennsylvania Avenue Sidewalk Tree Installation," n.d.; McDaniel to 
Charles B. Rcspass (dcp. asst. sec. for admin., Dept, of the Treasury), date too faint to read; 
file 307, box 167, ESF/WHiyNPS; landscape architect to Calvin Thomas (chief. Project De- 
velopment, D.C. Dept, of Public Works), June 9, 1989, file PRPK-307, box 167, 
ESF/ WHL/NPS. 

62. "A Report on the Mounting and Placement of Trophy Cannon at the Old Executive 
Office Building (North Entrance) by the National Park Service," Oct. 1985, ESF/WHL/NPS. 
In 1999 the Old Executive Office Building was renamed the Dwight D. Eisenhower 
Executive Office Building. 


The Grounds of the Treasury 
Building 


351 

Chapter S. Maintaining and Refining President's Park : 1 969-1 999 



Summary 


Old Executive Office Building. Both are Badlt MFC. type, 76 inches 
high, 58 inches wide, and 75 inches across, serial numbers 14173 
and 14181. They are inscribed "USN" and weigh 1,011 and 1,027 
pounds respectively. 63 According to a photograph in the Historic 
Preservation Office of the present-day Dwight D. Eisenhower 
Executive Office Building, these anchors may also have been 
previously displayed at the building as early as 1910. 


Summary 

Between 1971 and 1994 the landscape of President's Park continued 
to evolve. One of the most significant changes was the closure of 
East Executive Avenue to vehicular traffic and its redesign as a 
pedestrian mall (East Executive Park). Few large-scale changes have 
been made on the White House grounds. Ceremonial tree planting 
has continued. New trees have been planted in locations where trees 
were lost; vegetation plans have been modified, and the spaces, 
particularly on the west side of the grounds, have been periodically 
redesigned to better serve the recreational and social needs of the 
current occupants of the White House. 

During this period the tennis court was enlarged, a new swimming 
pool and cabana were constructed south of the West Wing, and a 
President's Patio and a west patio were designed and developed in 
1986. Various elements, such as the new visitor entrance building, 
have also been added to tighten security around the White House. 
Improvements were made to the Children's Garden, including the 
installation of a flagstone walk and additional vegetation to enhance 
the feeling of enclosure. The drives on both the north and south 
grounds were resurfaced; the grounds maintenance building was 
expanded; and the swimming pool and deck, as well as the south 
fountain, were repaired. 

First Lady Pat Nixon requested that the north and south fountains be 
illuminated year around. Both the Rose Garden and the Jacqueline 
Kennedy Garden were renovated. First Lady Hillary Clinton initiated 
a program to exhibit contemporary American sculpture in the 
Jacqueline Kennedy Garden. The sculpture exhibitions showcased 
works from museums in various regions of the country. 


63. John F. Dawson (Executive Office of the President, Office of Administration) to 
O'Brien (DSC/NPS), fax memo, Oct. 13, 1993. 


352 

PartI: Tuf. Evolution of President's Park 



Summary' 


The Pennsylvania Avenue bollards project was completed in 1988- 
Proposals to upgrade the lighting system in Lafayette Park and to 
remove the lodge were made, but never implemented. The perimeter 
sidewalks were paved with brick to match the interior paths. 

Throughout President's Park, there has also been a general and 
gradual upgrading of streets, paths, sidewalks, lighting, benches, and 
trash receptacles, as well as continued renewal of plantings. 

During the last decade security has become an increasing concern not 
only on the White House grounds, but also on Pennsylvania Avenue, 
in Lafayette Park, and on the Ellipse. Public use of President's Park 
still continues with traditional activities, such as the Easter egg roll. 
Marine Band concerts, and public demonstrations in Lafayette Park. 
New opportunities for the public include the highly popular White 
House gardens and grounds tours in the spring and fall and the 
Twilight Tattoo on the Ellipse. 


353 

Chapter 8. Maintaining anti Refining President’s Park: 1 969-1 994 







ifcAfc ■ -fr 


Figure 8- 1 While House Garden Tour Visitors Walking along the South Driveway near the tVc.vl Wing. 
Photograph, 1973. National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials Project. 


355 

CKipler 8. Maintaining and Refining President's Dirk: 1969-1994 


/ft *\ *• 






356 

Part I: The Kvoui i ion oh President's Park 








357 

Chapter 8. Maintaining ami Refining President s Kirk 1 969- 1 994 




Figure 8 4 Horseshoe Pit Built for President George H. W. Bush. Photograph, 1989. Office of 
the Curator. The White House. 


358 

Part I: Tut Evolution of Pmsioent’s Park 





Figure 8-5: President and Mrs. Clinton Planting a Willow Oak. Photograph, 1993. White House. William J. Clinton 
Presidential Materials Project. 


359 

Chapter 8 Maintaining and Refining President 's Park : 1969 1994 











The White House 
and President's Park 



Part II: Existing Conditions 







Chapter 9. The White House and 
President's Park Today 


The Grounds of the White House 

The North Lawn 

T he landscape of the White House is one of gently sloping 
lawns. The expansive north lawn provides a forecourt for 
the White House and creates a recognizable image of the 
presidency, President's Park, and Washington, D.C., as the 
nation's capital city (figure 9-1). From the north lawn steep earthen 
banks and retaining walls make the transition in grade to the south- 
sloping topography of the south lawn. 


Landscape Design 

The north lawn is divided into three sections by a semicircular paved 
access drive that leads to the north portico of the White House. 
Within the drive is a predominantly open, semicircular lawn with a 
circular fountain in the center, which provides the primary visual 
link to the north portico. To each side of the center panel are more 
wooded lawn areas. The west lawn area is primarily used as a 
broadcast site by the news media; it is crossed by a drive leading to 
the West Wing and the ground floor level of the White House. The 
east lawn area has no such auxiliary use. The service drive to the 
ground floor level of the White House on the east originates at the 
east entry from East Executive Park. 

Walls and fencing adjacent to Pennsylvania Avenue, East Executive 
Park, and West Executive Avenue define the extent of the north 
lawn. A granite-retaining wall approximately 1 8 inches high- flanks 
the lawn on the west and east. Along Pennsylvania Avenue the wall 
is constructed of mortared sandstone rubble with a range of colors 
including reds, tans, browns, and grays. A tooled granite capstone 
extends the length of the wall with picket, post, and crossbar fencing 
approximately 7.5 feet tall, set in the capstone. The fence includes an 
ornamental center panel with gothic elements, which are repeated at 
the northeast gate. 


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Chapter 9. The White House and President's Park Today 



The Grounds of the White House 


Four gates allow access to the north lawn: on the northeast and 
northwest, East Executive Park, and West Executive Avenue. The 
northeast and northwest gates are pedimented granite and limestone 
gateposts that are painted white and topped by wrought-iron gas 
lamps; they support ornate steel gates that replicate the original 
wrought-iron gates. The West Executive Avenue entrance has 
pedimented granite with limestone gateposts. The East Executive 
Park entrance has flat metal gateposts with simple lanterns. The 
gates have some design elements, but are not replicas of the original 
wrought-iron gates. 

Much of the north lawn's vegetation is mature or approaching 
maturity. The effect is of a well-established, parklike landscape. 
Shade trees provide a dappled, cooling effect during summer; in 
winter the many elms reinforce the edges of the lawn and its drives 
and walks. Vegetation consists of deciduous canopy trees, flowering 
trees and shrubs, and evergreen trees and shrubs planted within large 
expanses of lawn. In addition, there are seasonal plantings of 
flowering annuals, perennials, and bulbs and foundation plantings of 
evergreen and deciduous trees, shrubs, and ground covers. Colorful 
seasonal plantings surround the fountain in the spring, summer, and 
fall (figure 9-2). 


Commemorative Features 

Commemorative trees planted on the north lawn between circa 1889 
and 1994 include the following: 

two white saucer magnolias ( Magnolia x Soulangiana 'Alba') — 
Nancy Reagan 

a scarlet oak ( Quercus coccinea) — Benjamin Harrison 
a white oak (Quercus alba) — Franklin Delano Roosevelt 
a red maple ( Acer rubrum) — Jimmy Carter 

several boxwoods ( Buxus sempervirens 'Suffruticosa') — Harry 
Truman 

two fern-leaf beeches ( Fagus sylvatica ‘Asplenifolia') — one for 
Lady Bird Johnson, and one for Patricia Nixon 
an American elm ( Ulmus americana) — Betty Ford 
a sugar maple (Acer saccharum) — Ronald Reagan 

Bronze plaques and markers identify commemorative plantings. 


Ancillary' Structures 

Four guardhouses in this area are used to provide security and 
monitor entry to the grounds (figure 9-3). Two are at the ends of the 


364 

PART II: EXISTING CONDITIONS 



semicircular entry drive adjacent to Pennsylvania Avenue; two other 
guardhouses of similar design are adjacent to the West Executive 
Avenue pedestrian gate and the semicircular entry drive just east of 
the north portico. The largest is adjacent to the west entrance from 
Pennsylvania Avenue and serves as the primary entry point for 
communications and media personnel. 

The circular concrete fountain is painted white and has a rounded 
coping and a central jet. Floodlights set below the rim of the basin on 
the south side illuminate the fountain at night. 


Vehicular and Pedestrian Circulation 

Pedestrian circulation includes a semicircular concrete walk adjacent 
to the formal entry drive, the broad paved areas east and west of the 
north portico, an east-west concrete walk linking the north portico 
area to the west access/service road, granite steps at the White House 
entrance, metal access ramps on the east side of the north portico, 
stairs adjacent to the retaining walls flanking the north portico, and 
walks leading from the West Wing to West Executive Avenue {figure 
9-4). Gates control pedestrian access to the grounds from Penn- 
sylvania Avenue, East Executive Park, and West Executive Avenue. 

Just outside the perimeter fence along Pennsylvania Avenue, a broad 
concrete sidewalk with scored square panels is open to general pedes- 
trian use. Massive bollards linked by iron chains form a continuous 
vehicular and pedestrian barrier at the curb along the entire Pennsyl- 
vania Avenue frontage and flank the aprons of the entry drive. 
Placed at 5-foot intervals, each bollard consists of a stainless steel 
pipe anchored into a foundation and filled with concrete, covered 
with a cast concrete sleeve. 


Site Furnishings 

Several utilitarian features are associated with the north lawn. These 
features include the post-and-chain barriers, trash receptacles, and 
floodlights. Temporary site furnishings include portable chairs, 
electrical wires, and camera stands related to communications and 
media uses. Although movable, this equipment remains on the site 
from day to day in much the same location. 

Bacon-style lampposts, painted dark gray, are located adjacent to the 
curb along Pennsylvania Avenue at regular intervals. Used through- 
out much of metropolitan Washington, D.C., the Bacon design 
features a fluted shaft atop an octagonal base with an ornately 
scrolled cross bracket and two molded acrylic lights with integral 


The Grounds of the White House 


365 

Chapter 9. The White House and President's Park Today 



The Grounds of the White House 


finials (figure 9-5). Another design popular in metropolitan 
Washington is the Millet lighting standard used on the north iawn 
adjacent to the West Wing and elsewhere on the White House 
grounds (figure 9-6). Painted black, it features a cast-iron fluted 
shaft with a circular, flared base that supports a single cast-acrylic 
light with an integral finial. A third type of lighting standard is 
known as the Columbian Family, which is a simplified Bacon-style 
lamppost. This type of lamppost is found along Pennsylvania 
Avenue around Lafayette Park and along 15th Street by the Treasury 
Building and Sherman Plaza (figure 9-7). 


Views 

The north lawn is visible from Pennsylvania Avenue and Lafayette 
Park, and the principal view from the north lawn is to Lafayette Park 
(figure 9-8). The Treasury and Old Executive Office Buildings restrict 
views to and from the north lawn on the east and west and form a 
backdrop, particularly during the winter months. The north lawn is 
visible from these buildings' upper stories. 


The Upper South Lawn 

The White House, with its semicircular south portico and grand, 
curving stairways, visually dominates the expansive upper south 
lawn (figure 9-9). The upper south lawn, which slopes gently to the 
south, forms a visual corridor that links the White House, the 
Ellipse, and the Mall. 

The upper south lawn is used for a variety of purposes. The presi- 
dent often greets visiting heads of state, makes presentations to for- 
eign dignitaries, and participates in other outdoor events on the 
south lawn, and most frequently in the east garden (also known as 
the Jacqueline Kennedy Garden or the First Lady's Garden) and the 
west garden (the Rose Garden or the President's Garden). The Rose 
Garden provides an outdoor setting for the president to speak to the 
press or guests. Traditionally, ceremonial and social events have 
taken place in the east garden. The upper south lawn is also asso- 
ciated with various commemorative activities. The tradition of 
presidential tree planting has taken place here intermittently since the 
administration of John Quincy Adams, as documented by a marker 
on one of the Eisenhower commemorative plantings (figure 9-10). 

The expansive upper south lawn provides the president's family and 
guests opportunities for strolling, entertaining, and unstructured 
outdoor games and sports. 


366 

Part II: Existing Conditions 



Landscape Design 


The Grounds of the White House 


The upper south lawn area is a large central open space planted in 
grass, delineated by a circular drive and a variety of landscaped areas: 
the east garden, the west garden, the magnolia patio, the President's 
Patio, the west patio, and the Jefferson mounds. The established 
recreational facilities include a swimming pool, putting green, and 
jogging track. The presidential helicopter also lands on the upper 
south lawn. The three guardhouses on the upper south lawn are 
south of the east garden, south of the west garden, and south of the 
swimming pool. 

The upper south lawn's vegetation is varied and well maintained. 
There are foundation plantings, formal garden plantings, deciduous 
shade and canopy trees, evergreen trees and shrubs, deciduous 
flowering trees and shrubs, and seasonal plantings of annuals, 
perennials, and bulbs. The formal gardens near the White House 
include geometrical planting beds and clipped hedges of evergreen 
shrubs, lines of small trees, and seasonal plantings of flowering 
species. Large trees and shrubs are planted at the edges of the open 
expanse of lawn surrounded by the circular drive. Plantings of orna- 
mental trees and shrubs, including two blue atlas cedars, camellias, 
and English ivy, crown the Jefferson mounds. The Jefferson 
mounds, which symmetrically frame views both to and from the 
White House, are in the southeastern and southwestern portions of 
the central lawn. An American elm on the eastern mound is a graft 
of the original tree planted nearby by John Quincy Adams. The 
original is believed to have been the oldest surviving tree on the 
White House grounds until it had to be removed. 

East Garden. The east garden is adjacent to the White House along 
the south facade of the east colonnade (figure 9-11). The White 
House, the east terrace, and the East Wing frame the garden to the 
west, north, and east, and there are clipped hedges to Ihe south. The 
garden's central lawn is flanked on the north and south by a formal 
parterre of clipped evergreen shrubs with geometrical plantings of 
seasonal flowers and herbs. The lawn and parterres are set within a 
perimeter network of steel-edged brick walks. 

A pergola and a rectangular pool are located outside the perimeter 
walk at the west and east ends of the garden. The three-bay white 
wooden pergola has two rows of four slender Tuscan columns that 
support a perpendicular grid of lintels, beams, and laths. 1 A brass 


1 . The pergola was originally constructed of wood, but lias been replaced with a fiber- 
glass structure to eliminate the recurring need for repair and replacement; Ludy Schneider 
(White House gardening staff). 


567 

Chapter 9. The White House and President's Park Today 



The Grounds of the White House 


plaque on one of the columns, dated 1965, dedicates the garden to 
Jacqueline Kennedy. A concord grapevine growing at the northeast 
corner is trained on the pergola. The area beneath the pergola is 
paved in a brick basketweave pattern. A simple wooden bench 
occupies the pergola's central bay. Two white-painted ornate cast- 
iron benches flank the pergola against a backdrop of holly osman- 
thus hedge. Two cast-iron benches, similar in design and setting to 
those at the opposite end of the garden, flank the pool. Two sculpted 
limestone benches, with rustic designs of entwined branches, birds, 
and small animals, are painted white and set along the eastern gravel 
walk adjacent to the east terrace and near the garden's entrance from 
the south. First Lady Hillary Clinton initiated a program to exhibit 
contemporary American sculpture by regional artists in the east 
garden on a six-month or one-year rotating basis. The sculptures 
from American museums were displayed in alternating panels of the 
parterre and on the central lawn. 

Ornamental plantings in the east garden include the following: 

trees — clipped forms of American holly, a row of small- 
leaved lindens 

shrubs — clipped hedges of holly osmanthus, convex-leafed 
holly, Green Pillow boxwood, and dwarf boxwood 

perennial herbs and flowers — such as lavender cotton, plan- 
tain lily, rosemary, dusty miller, thyme, and other flowering 
plants that provide color during spring, summer, and fall 

West Garden. The west garden is a formal garden east of the Oval 
Office (figure 9-12). Previously this location was the site of a 
greenhouse; the current garden features roses as well as spring- 
flowering trees, evergreen shrubs, perennials, herbs, and seasonal 
plantings set within geometrical beds that border the central lawn on 
the north, west, and south. A flagstone walk running north-south 
and an adjacent patio are located along the east end of the garden; 
open walkways within the west colonnade and West Wing provide 
pedestrian circulation along the garden's north and west sides. A 
wooden bench, a gift of Mrs. Paul Mellon, who redesigned the 
existing garden in 1962, is located on the flagstone patio. An ornate 
cast-iron bench, similar to those in the east garden but painted black, 
stands in the garden's northeast corner. 

Four commemorative trees mark the garden's corners. Installed in 
1962, these saucer magnolias were planted in memory of John F. 
Kennedy. Other flowering trees include a Winter King hawthorn 
planted near the flagstone patio and numerous Katherine crab apples 
in rows along both of the linear planting beds. Beneath the crab 


368 

PART II : EXISTING CONDITIONS 



The Grounds of the White House 


apples are roses that give the garden its name. Rose varieties include 
Iceberg, Pat Nixon, and John F. Kennedy. The evergreen shrubs used 
in the garden — holly osmanthus and true dwarf boxwood — create 
a dark green backdrop for the deciduous flowering plants; some are 
clipped to form hedges. Herbs, perennials, bulbs, and annuals provide 
additional spring, summer, and fall color. 

Other Garden Areas. The Andrew Jackson southern magnolias, the 
oldest extant trees on the White House grounds, are located adjacent 
to the south portico. At the base of the trees is the magnolia patio, an 
intimate sitting area furnished during the warmer months with 
metal lawn chairs. 

The President's Patio is a small, enclosed, sunken patio south of the 
West Wing that was built during the Reagan administration. Orna- 
mental evergreen trees and shrubs at the edge of the paved area, as 
well as flowering deciduous trees and shrubs, create a secluded, 
intimate garden room. Its cascading fountain is set within a stone 
wall (figure 9-13). Water flows from a cast lion's head into a shell- 
shaped basin that empties into a larger pool sunken below the level 
of the adjacent walkway. A low retaining wall, constructed of the 
same stone as that used for the western wall, bounds the patio on 
the north and east. 

Plants in the President's Patio include American holly, European 
hornbeam, Nellie R. Stevens holly, spreading English yew, Japanese 
spurge, Delaware Valley White azalea, compact Japanese holly, 
Marie's doublefile viburnum, and creeping lilyturf. 

The west patio is another small private space built during the Reagan 
administration. Located southwest of the West Wing, it has a white 
arbor and stonework paving. Plantings consist of red maples, 
hornbeams, azaleas, and Japanese hollies. A statue of a girl holding a 
plant and a watering can, sculpted by Silvia Shaw Judson, formerly 
in the east garden, is located here. 

The swimming pool area is south of the President's Patio. It is on a 
plateau well above the level of adjacent West Executive Avenue and is 
surrounded by a terrace of scored concrete panels. The pool complex 
comprises a rectangular pool, a paved terrace, a cabana, a guard- 
house, planters and planting beds, a retaining wall, and paved walks. 
Low, circular concrete planters with evergreen shrubs and white 
wrought-irom patio furniture are arranged around the swimming 
pool. The one-story cabana at the north end of the pool is a rectan- 
gular flat-roofed building faced with stucco and painted white. Two 
multiple paned French doors with sidelights occupy the building's 
central bay; recessed stucco panels articulate the adjacent wall 


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Chapter 9. The White House and President 's Park Today 



The Grounds of the White House 


surfaces on the east and west. Two wall-mounted black metal coach 
lanterns flank the entry doors. Tall evergreen trees surrounding the 
pool provide privacy; the guardhouse is at the southwest corner of 
the pool area, just beyond the evergreen screen. Pool area plantings 
include Leyland cypress trees, yellow-fruited holly, Nellie R. Stevens 
holly, Delaware Valley White azaleas, convex-leafed holly, Helleri 
holly, English boxwood, English ivy, and Japanese spurge. 

A putting green is set within the circular drive on the west side of the 
upper south lawn. Nearby are an unpainted wooden bench and an 
upright drinking fountain. 


Commemorative Features 

Commemorative trees planted on the upper south lawn from 1834 
to 1994 include the following: 

two willow oaks (Qi/erajs phellos ) — Ronald Reagan; Lyndon B. 
Johnson 

four saucer magnolias {Magnolia x Soulangiana) — John F. 
Kennedy 

two southern magnolias (Magnolia grandiflora) planted in 1834 
— Andrew Jackson; believed to be the oldest extant trees in 
President's Park 

an eastern white pine (Pinus strobus) — Gerald Ford 
an eastern redbud (Cereis canadensis ‘Alba’) — George Bush 
a northern red oak (Quercus borealis ) — Dwight D. Eisenhower 
two small-leaved linden (Tilia cordata) — Franklin D. Roosevelt; 
George H. W. Bush and Queen Elizabeth II, on the occasion of 
her visit 

a Rivers purple beech ( Fagus sylvatica 'Riversii') — George H. W. 
Bush 

a Patmore ash ( Fraxinus pennsylvanica ‘Patmore') — George H. W, 
Bush 

an American elm ( Ulmus americana) — Barbara Bush 
a cedar of Lebanon (Cedrus libani ) — Jimmy Carter 
a white oak (Quercus alba) — Herbert Hoover 
a pin oak (Quercus palustris) — Dwight D. Eisenhower 
a threadleaf Japanese maple (Acer palmatum 'Dissectum Ornatum’) 
— Rosalynn Carter 

a small-leaved linden (Tilia cordata) — William J. Clinton 
three Cherokee Princess dogwood (Cornus florida 'Cherokee Prin- 
cess') — Hillary Rodham Clinton 

Near the Jackson magnolia trees, at the southwest corner of the 
Executive Residence, is a bronze plaque set on a granite base that 


370 

Part II: Existing Conditions 



reads, "Time Capsule, October 13, 1992, George Bush, President," 
commemorating the 200th anniversary of the laying of the White 
House cornerstone. 


Vehicular and Pedestrian Circulation 

The circular drive provides vehicular access to the White House south 
entrance and is a prominent feature of the upper south lawn. The 
asphalt- paved drive has no curbing and is lined with steel edging; the 
inner portion, which is paved with an asphalt and rubber aggregate 
composite material, provides a surface for jogging. The drive con- 
nects on the south with the asphalt-paved transverse road that 
divides the south lawn. Gates at the east and west ends of the drive 
provide vehicular access at the junction of South Executive Avenue 
with Hamilton Place and State Place. 

The upper south lawn's pedestrian circulation includes the paired 
Alabama limestone stairs of the south portico and the stone-paved 
area at its ground floor entrance. This area serves as a vehicular 
drop-off point from the circular drive; a five-pointed brass star is 
inset into the paving stone border. 

Paved areas for pedestrians include the flagstone-paved President's 
Patio, the concrete paving around the swimming pool, the limestone 
stairs connecting the Oval Office with the Rose Garden, the flagstone 
walks and patio of the west garden, limestone walks along the south 
facade of the White House, the flagstone-paved magnolia patio, the 
brick-paved area under the east garden pergola, the brick walks with 
metal edging strips of the east garden, and a number of flagstone 
walks connecting the swimming pool area, the east and west 
gardens, and the utility areas with the circular drive. 


Site Furnishings 

The upper south lawn includes numerous small features in addition 
to those associated with specific gardens. A number of ornate white- 
painted metal benches, similar to those in the east garden, are located 
beneath trees within the central lawn. A three-quarter size bronze 
stag is set against a backdrop of evergreen plantings near the Oval 
Office, as is a rope swing hung from a branch of the Eisenhower 
commemorative pin oak. Black cast-iron lampposts adjacent to 
roadways within the upper south lawn are of the single-light Millet 
design. In the northeastern portion of the central lawn, unpainted 
wooden slats set flush with the lawn surface cover a stone milk 
trough that dates from the Andrew Jackson administration. 


The Grounds of the White House 


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Chapter 9. The White House and President's Fark Today 



The Grounds of the White House 


Views 


The dramatic views to the south facade of the White House from the 
Ellipse and South Executive Avenue are across large expanses of open 
lawn, framed by trees and shrubs. From the high ground of the 
upper south lawn views are toward the Mall, the Washington 
Monument, and the Jefferson Memorial. 


The Lower South Lawn 

The lower south lawn encompasses the area between the transverse 
road and the perimeter fence adjacent to South Executive Avenue 
(figure 9-14). It contains many ornamental trees and shrubs. This 
area provides a visual foreground to the White House when seen 
from South Executive Avenue, the Ellipse, and the Mall (figure 9-15). 


Landscape Design 

The large semicircular open space has dense screen plantings of 
deciduous and evergreen trees, ground covers, and shrubs along its 
eastern and western sides. These plantings direct views to and from 
the White House along a north-south sight line and provide privacy 
for portions of the lawn. The lawn's central focal point is the large 
circular concrete fountain sited on axis with the south portico. The 
fountain has eight small jets of water surrounding a larger central 
jet. Evergreen shrubs and flowering annuals surround the fountain 
(figure 9-16). 

The Children's Garden contains a flagstone walk, a sunken lily pond, 
small-scaled ornate cast-iron benches and chairs painted white, and 
plantings selected for shade tolerance. The hand and foot imprints of 
presidential grandchildren are cast in concrete and are marked by 
bronze plaques (figure 9-17). A plaque notes the dedication of the 
garden: "The White House Grounds from The President and Mrs. 
Lyndon B. Johnson, Christmas, 1968." Flagstones surround the 
pond, which has a wooden cover during the winter months. 
Evergreen plants that dominate the small, secluded garden include 
American holly and evergreen rhododendrons and azaleas. The 
garden also is planted with creeping lilyturf and seasonal flowering 
annuals, perennials, and bulbs. 

The lower south lawn accommodates both structured and unstruc- 
tured recreational activities, as well as special events requiring tents 
or other temporary structures. Developed recreational facilities 
include the tennis courts, a half basketball court, and a jogging track. 


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Ornamental plantings on the lower south lawn include deciduous 
and evergreen trees, shrubs, ground covers, and seasonal flowering 
plants. Species include yew, Japanese holly, bald cypress, American 
elm, English holly, viburnums, American holly, crab apple, Kousa 
dogwood, oriental spruce, and various species of oaks and mag- 
nolias. Evergreen trees have been planted in green-painted portable 
planters that can be moved into various positions to block views into 
the south lawn from the adjacent city streets (figure 9-18). 


Commemorative Features 

Commemorative trees — each identified by a bronze plaque — 
include the following: 

two Japanese threadleaf maples (Acer palmatum ' Dissectum 
Omatum') — one for Frances Folsom Cleveland and the other 
for Rosalynn Carter 

a white oak (Qnercus alba) — Herbert Hoover 
a willow oak ( Qpercus phellos) — President and Mrs. Clinton 
an American elm (L/Zmus americana) — President and Mrs. 
Clinton 


Ancillary Structures 

A guardhouse is located at each end of the east- west transverse road. 
Metal bollards and metal chain have been installed near the western 
guardhouse at State Place. A maintenance complex of three block and 
metal service sheds and buildings is sited in the western part of the 
lower south lawn (figure 9-19). The buildings are accessible from the 
west end of the transverse road by a service drive leading south, 
terminating in an asphalt-paved service court. Portable brown rubber 
trash receptacles are located near the maintenance facilities, and a 
metal trash bin is just west of the buildings. 

West of the maintenance area is a small recreation area with a 
concrete-paved half basketball court. A pedestrian walk of flagstone 
pavers leads to this area from the maintenance area drive. There are 
wooden picnic tables and benches near the basketball court, and there 
is a wooden sign at the tennis court entrance. The tennis court, west 
of the central fountain, is surfaced with an asphalt-rubber composite 
material similar to the running track. The court paving extends to 
the southwest, providing a small area furnished with wrought-iron 
patio furniture. This area also gives access to a drinking fountain and 
lavatory in the eastern part of one of the adjacent maintenance 
buildings. The tennis court is surrounded by chain link fencing and is 
screened by ornamental plantings of trees and shrubs. Plantings 


The Grounds of the White House 


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Chapter 9. The White House and President's Park Today 



The Grounds of the Treasury 
Building 


include American holly, convex-lcafed holly, Nellie R. Stevens holly, 
and catawba rhododendron. 


Site Furnishings 

Black cast-iron, single-light Millet-style lampposts are adjacent to the 
transverse road. Low black metal light fixtures provide perimeter 
lighting along the fence enclosing the White House grounds. A 
helicopter guidelight mounted in the oriental spruce on the lower 
south lawn facilitates helicopter landings at night. 


Views 

Views from the lower south lawn include those to the Jefferson 
Memorial, the Washington Monument, the Mall, and the National 
Christmas Tree on the Ellipse, as well as a glimpse across South 
Executive Avenue to the First Division Monument. 


The Grounds of the Treasury Building 

The massive neoclassical style Treasury Building creates a visual 
boundary for the White House and the north lawn on the east 
{figure 9-20). The Treasury is immediately adjacent to the 15th 
Street sidewalk on the east; a fence defines the balance of the lot's 
perimeter. On the west, planted terraces separate the Treasury from 
East Executive Park. A paved terrace flanked by grass terraces creates 
a forecourt to the building's north and south porticoes. Large statues 
of Albert Gallatin and Alexander Hamilton are centrally placed on the 
north and south entry terraces, respectively. The major staff 
entrance to the building is at 15th Street; the additional entrance on 
the west side features a replica of the Liberty Bell. A parking area and 
an entrance for the secretary of the treasury, accessible from East 
Executive Park, are near the southwest corner of the building. 
Limited parking is available along the western and southwestern 
sides of the building. 

The primary use of the Treasury is for executive branch offices, with 
some auxiliary service and support facilities. Some department 
personnel use the two terraces and open areas north and south of the 
building for lunchtime picnicking and reading. Most of the Treasury 
Building site is not accessible to the public, although there are public 
tours of the building on weekends. 


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Part 11: Existing Conditions 



Landscape Design 

Retaining walls related to grade changes between the grounds around 
the Treasury and the surrounding street create large level spaces 
around the building for parking, outdoor terraces, and lawns. 
Drainage structures that collect stormwater are located in the 
terraces and lawn areas, including a French drain that encircles the 
Gallatin statue on the north terrace, and a concrete gutter behind the 
retaining wall in the northwestern corner of the building. The terrace 
paving pattern — alternating square slabs of red sandstone and blue- 
stone set in a diamond pattern — is similar to that of the Old 
Executive Office Building. 

Vegetation includes the lawn areas edged with American holly and 
star magnolia, as well as planting beds east and west of the north 
and south terraces for seasonal flowering plants. Some beds have 
been planted with roses. There are raised granite planting beds along 
the east side of the Treasury; the beds are treated as an extension of 
the building's foundation and remain at a constant level despite the 
drop in grade to the south along 15th Street. The walls range from a 
height of street level to more than 5 feet above the pavement. Trees 
and shrubs have been installed in the planters, and seasonal 
flowering plants are added in the spring, summer, and fall. 


Commemorative Features 

The bronze statue of Albert Gallatin is located at the center of the 
north terrace (figure 9-21). The statue's granite base is inset with 
copper stars and lettering. The statue and its base are set upon a 
small, square terrace paved with large and small river rocks, raised 
above the level of the north terrace by two granite steps. 

The bronze statue of Alexander Hamilton, located on the south 
terrace, has a pink granite base, featuring carved fasces at the corners 
and ribbon and vine swags (figure 9-22). A decorative border of large 
and small river rocks set in mortar surrounds the base, elevated 
above the level of the south terrace by three granite steps. 

A bronze plaque (installed by the Kiwanis Club of Washington, D.C., 
in 1929) on the northeast corner of the Treasury commemorates the 
signing of the Webster-Ashburton Treaty between Canada and the 
United States . 


The Grounds of the Treasury 
Building 


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Chapter 9. The White House and President's Park Today 



The Grounds of the Treasury 
Building 


Ancillary Structures 

A guardhouse is adjacent to the south parking area entrance near 
East Executive Park. A concrete retaining wall, partially free standing 
and covered with stucco, is at the edge of the entrance to the parking 
area. The freestanding portion of the wall has a granite capstone. 


Vehicular and Pedestrian Circulation 

Vehicular circulation includes the asphalt parking around the base- 
ment level of the Treasury to the west and the road providing access 
to this lower level from Hamilton Place. This road is paved with 
glazed concrete pavers at its intersection with Hamilton Place. A 
vehicular approach "bridge" provides access to the Treasury at the 
level of East Executive Park at the southwest corner of the building. 
There are both surface and underground parking facilities. Pedestrian 
circulation systems include the north and south terraces, which are 
paved with square slabs of red sandstone and bluestone pavers in an 
alternating diamond pattern. Granite stairways lead east and west 
from the terraces to the lawns. Ornamental wrought-iron gates are 
set into the balustrade along the east and west sides of the terrace. 
Access to the north terrace is limited to those admitted to the 
Treasury; it is not accessible from Pennsylvania Avenue. 

The adjacent streets are asphalt with square-cut granite or bluestone 
curbing and brick gutter pans along their margins. The sidewalks 
along Pennsylvania Avenue, 15th Street, Hamilton Place, and East 
Executive Park are open to the public and are surfaced with large 
precast panels of light gray exposed aggregate concrete with a 
ground surface that gives the appearance of terrazzo. Bands of dark 
gray granite pavers define the sidewalk perimeters. Identical granite 
bands extend across the sidewalk to mark tree wells adjacent to the 
curb. Portable metal ramps have been set over many of the stairways 
to improve accessibility. 


Site Furnishings 

Wrought-iron picket fencing set between granite piers or, in some 
areas between iron posts, encloses the site on the northeast, north, 
west, south, and southeast. The fencing is set atop retaining walls 
along Pennsylvania Avenue; in other areas a granite curb into which 
the pickets are set defines the modest difference in grade between the 
Treasury grounds and adjacent public spaces. The northwest and 
southwest terraces form a landscaped transition between the higher 
elevation of East Executive Park and the basement level parking on 


376 

Part II: Existing Conditions 



the Treasury's west side. Temporary black metal fencing encloses the 
central portion of the western lawn area south of the Treasury. 

Wood-slat benches with metal frames have been placed in various 
locations. There are also unpainted wood benches, as well as wooden 
picnic tables and benches. Cylindrical trash receptacles with dark 
anodized metal slats and a removable liner are located along the 
sidewalk on several sides of the building. Portable wooden planter 
boxes painted dark green are located near the 15th Street entrance. 
Ornate cast bronze tree grates cover the tree wells along 
Pennsylvania Avenue and 15th Street. Large granite bollards 3 feet 
high, set on paving slabs of darker granite, are located near the 
Treasury Building's west entrance. 

Cast-iron lampposts in the form of slender fluted columns with 
encircling vines are located east and west of the Gallatin and 
Hamilton statues. The two on the north terrace are painted off- 
white; those on the south terrace are white, and each has a white 
glass globe light. Lampposts along 15th Street and Pennsylvania 
Avenue are the twin-light Bacon design; those along Hamilton Place 
and East Executive Park are the single-light Millet design. Four black 
metal floodlights (each on a metal post set on a concrete base) 
adjacent to the north and south terrace balustrades illuminate the 
Treasury's north and south porticoes. 


Views 

From the Treasury it is possible to view the Capitol. From the upper 
stories the White House grounds, the Washington Monument, the 
Jefferson Memorial, and the Mall are visible. 


The Grounds of the Old Executive Office Building 

Sited in the center of its fenced block, the massive Second Empire 
style Old Executive Office Building (named the Dwight D. 
Eisenhower Executive Office Building in 1999) creates the White 
House's visual boundary on the west. A paved terrace flanked by 
grass terraces forms a forecourt to both the north and south 
porticoes (figure 9-23). Two courtyards located north and south 
within the building provide onsite parking and are accessible from 
both West Executive Avenue and 1 7th Street. Cast-iron fencing with 
pointed leaf-shaped finials, set between carved granite piers, bound 
the building's four street edges (figure 9-24). The north fence is set in 
stone retaining walls. The West Executive Avenue entrances are part 


The Grounds of the Old Executive 
Office Building 


377 

Chapter 9 The White House and President's Park Today 



The Grounds of the Old Executive 
Office Building 


of a limited access area that includes the west entrance to the White 
House. 

The primary use of this building is for executive offices; employees 
use the building's north and south lawns for outdoor lunches and 
reading. Security operations limit access to the grounds and building. 


Landscape Design 

Two large pedestrian terraces extend from the center of the north 
and south facades; each terrace is defined on the east and west by a 
granite balustrade set between a series of regularly spaced granite 
piers topped with concrete urns (figure 9-25). The terrace paving 
pattern is alternating square slabs of red sandstone and bluestone set 
in a diamond pattern {similar to that at the Treasury). Other related 
features include the granite entry stair with inset metal handrails, a 
simple wrought-iron gate marking the north entrance, and an 
ornate gate between the southeast terrace and the lower lawn. 

There are willow oaks and red oaks along Pennsylvania Avenue, and 
English oak, saucer magnolia, and southern magnolia along West 
Executive Avenue. Lawn areas are north and south of the building, 
with edge foundation plantings of Japanese holly, azaleas, inkberry, 
yew, and juniper in mulch beds. There are also southern magnolia, 
saucer magnolia, and Japanese maple trees; and junipers are planted 
in concrete urns along the east side of the building. 


Commemorative Features 

Two Badlt MFG type anchors, inscribed with "U5N," on loan from 
the U.S. Navy, are located at the east entrance. Two 5-inch brass 
trophy guns captured in the Philippines during the Spanish- 
American War are located at the north entrance to the building. 


Ancillary Structures 

Guardhouses are located at the 1 7th Street and West Executive 
Avenue entry points. Various structural features located in building 
courtyards include covered stairs in the south courtyard, HVAC/ 
utility structures in the north and south courtyards, and a brick 
shed in the south courtyard. 


378 

Part II: Existing Conditions 



Vehicular and Pedestrian Circulation 

Vehicular circulation includes paved asphalt streets, access drives, 
and parking in the north and south courtyards. Pedestrian circula- 
tion includes public sidewalks as well as walks within the limited 
access area. The wide sidewalks along Pennsylvania Avenue, 17th 
Street, and State Place are constructed of precast concrete panels with 
granite pavers similar to those surrounding the Treasury; street tree 
wells and lampposts are set in the sidewalk. The concrete sidewalk 
east of the building is scored in a square pattern. 


Site Furnishings 

At each corner of the office building bronze signs with raised 
lettering mounted on tall iron posts with finials identify the building. 
A similar but larger plaque interpreting the history of the building is 
attached to the north terrace entry gate. Ornate black cast-iron 
lampposts top the granite piers of the perimeter fence. On the south 
and east sides the posts have a tapered shaft with a widely flared base 
highlighted by a band of gilt stars; at the top a torchlike base sup- 
ports a single globe of white glass. The same basic design is used on 
the west side, but four smaller globes surround the central globe. 
Lighting standards along Pennsylvania Avenue are the twin-light 
Bacon design; those along 1 7th Street and State Place are the simpler, 
single-light Millet design. Black metal floodlights set on concrete 
bases illuminate the building facades at night. 

Wood picnic tables with metal frames and wood and metal benches 
are located intermittently along the east side of the building, and 
there is a metal bike rack in the south courtyard near the exit. 
Portable litter containers have metal frames painted white and 
aggregate concrete inset panels. There are low, round concrete 
planters along the east side of the building. Steel edging strips define 
the planting beds in the north and south garden areas. 


Views 

From the upper floors are views to the north and south lawns of the 
White House grounds. 


The Grounds of the Old Executive 
Office Building 


379 

Chapter 9. The White House and President's Park Today 



East Executive Park 


East Executive Park 


East Executive Park, a limited access roadway, is lined with side- 
walks, grass strips, and rows of trees. The Treasury's imposing four- 
story facade reinforces the avenue's linearity (figure 9-26). Steel 
gates, which replaced similar wrought-iron gates, mark the north 
and south entrances; two associated guardhouses monitor pedestrian 
and vehicular access. 

East Executive Park provides access to the East Wing of the White 
House for staff, people on public tours, and state dinner guests. To a 
lesser degree it provides access to the Treasury Building, as well as 
limited parking for White House and Treasury staff. East Executive 
Park is a publicly accessible pedestrian link between Pennsylvania 
Avenue and Hamilton Place. 

Landscape Design 

Low granite retaining walls and iron fencing separate the White 
House grounds from East Executive Park. Within the fence, 
additional wrought-iron fencing approximately 3.5 feet high sepa- 
rates the East Wing entry area from the north and south lawns; a 
small gate in the south portion of the fencing allows access to the 
south lawn. Pedestrian and vehicular access to East Executive Park 
from the north and south is monitored at entry gates. The ornate 
wrought-iron, vehicular gates are painted black and embellished 
with bronze stars and eagles; they are set between two square iron 
gateposts with raised panel moldings on each side. The gateposts, 
also painted black, are mounted on granite foundation blocks and are 
topped by single, wrought-iron lanterns. Two similar gateposts and 
two smaller gateposts topped with urn-shaped finials support three 
gates, which form the associated pedestrian entrances to East 
Executive Park. 

The gateposts flanking the U-shaped drive, along with their ornate 
wrought-iron vehicular and pedestrian gates, are similar in design to 
those at the Pennsylvania Avenue entrances to the White House. The 
posts, approximately 7 feet high, have pedimented capstones; the 
limestone block portions are painted white, and their granite bases 
are unpainted. Two other gates provide access, one at the visitor 
entrance building south of the East Wing entry drive and the other 
where the fence forms a semicircular forecourt to the East Wing. 
This gate, which provides access from the public sidewalk, has 
arrow-shaped wrought-iron pickets and is flanked by two wrought- 
iron posts with scroll detailing, which are topped by single wrought- 
iron lanterns. 


380 

PART II: EXISTING CONDITIONS 



East Executive Park 


The east fountain, which occupies the center of the adjacent sidewalk 
forecourt, lies on the east-west axis between the White House East 
Wing and the west portico of the Treasury {figure 9-27). A dark 
band of granite paving encircles the 2-foot deep fountain, which has 
a circular granite pool with a single water jet. 

Vegetation in East Executive Park includes trees, shrubs, and ground 
covers. Trees such as willow oaks line the street in tree-planting beds 
along the west side of the Treasury and in mulched tree wells in the 
concrete public sidewalk, protected by black metal chain fencing. 
Other vegetation includes ornamental plantings and ground cover 
such as winter creeper, Japanese holly, azaleas, Nellie R. Stevens 
holly, boxwood, saucer magnolia, serviceberry, Japanese snowbell, 
and lawn. 


Commemorative Features 

Two southern magnolias ( Magnolia grandiflora) dominate the lawn 
adjacent to the East Wing. The magnolia north of the central 
approach walk was planted in 1947 to replace the tree planted in 
1922 for President Warren G. Harding; the magnolia south of the 
walk was planted for President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1942. 


Ancillary Structures 

The visitor entrance building near the south gate of the U-shaped 
drive is constructed of limestone blocks, with columns on granite 
pedestals and double doors of anodized metal (figure 9-28). Four 
white wood frame guardhouses are located at vehicular entrances in 
this area: at the southern entrance to East Executive Park, at the 
south arm of the East Wing entry drive, at the north entrance to East 
Executive Park, and at the north arm of the East Wing entry drive. 


Vehicular and Pedestrian Circulation 

Circulation systems in East Executive Park include its north-south 
asphalt street and adjacent parking area in front of the East Wing. A 
U-shaped drive with granite curbing extending west from the 
parking area provides vehicular access to the East Wing. Beneath the 
East Wing porte coehthe, the drive is paved in granite set in a fish 
scale pattern; between the porte cochere and the perimeter fence, the 
drive is paved in asphalt. Low granite bollards mark the edges of the 
drive. The main sidewalk extending the length of East Executive Park 
is made of precast concrete panels with granite pavers similar to 
those surrounding the Treasury. It continues uninterrupted by the 


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Chapter 9. The White House and President's Park Today 



East Executive Park 


asphalt entry drive to the East Wing. Crosswalks and ramps are 
constructed of the same materials. Sidewalks within the fence at the 
East Wing entry area are composed of large pieces of granite. The 
sidewalk leading to the White House near its intersection with the 
porte cochere has a decorative diamond pattern. Flagstones set in 
sand extend through the gate between the east entry and the south 
White House lawn. 


Site Furnishings 

Lampposts set at regular intervals along the public sidewalk are of 
the single-light Millet design. Floodlights of black metal and glass are 
located in the East Wing entry area. Stained backless wooden slat 
benches with black, ornate metal frames are located along the public 
sidewalk. Two water fountains are located along the public route. 
Black metal litter containers, similar in design to those used at the 
Treasury, also are located at regular intervals along the sidewalk. 
Upright sign panels at the north and south entrances to East 
Executive Park provide information about President's Park. Each sign 
is supported by black metal posts and is sheltered by an overhanging 
hipped brown metal roof with square battens. Adjacent to the signs, 
a low granite retaining wall defines a planting bed containing ever- 
green shrubs, ground covers, and seasonal flowering plants. Low 
circular concrete planters containing juniper are distributed through- 
out East Executive Park and at the north and south entrances. 

Temporary metal post-and-chain fencing protects lawn areas within 
East Executive Park, and bollards are used extensively in this area. 
Low granite bollards mark the edges of the U-shaped drive at the east 
entry; there is a slightly larger bollard where the pavement changes 
from asphalt to granite under the porte cochere; and bright metal 
bollards and chains fill the spaces between the columns of the porte 
cochere. Metal bollards painted black and decorated with bronze stars 
have been installed along East Executive Park. Low concrete bollards 
mark the corners of the wrought-iron gates and limestone posts at 
the entry to the U-shaped drive. 


Views 

Views in the vicinity of the east entry and East Executive Park 
include a view due south to the Washington Monument and limited 
views of the south grounds of the White House. 


382 

Part ii: Existing Conditions 



West Executive Avenue 


West Executive Avenue 


West Executive Avenue is a limited access road closed to the general 
public. It serves primarily as a vehicular access, parking, and circu- 
lation space for executive branch staff, and as a pedestrian area 
linking the present Eisenhower Executive Office Building and the 
White House (figure 9-29). The predominant feature of the space is 
the north-south roadway, reinforced by the parallel facades of the 
West Wing of the White House on the east and the more massive Old 
Executive Office Building on the west. West Executive Avenue is set 
below the level of the north lawn by one building story. 


Landscape Design 

Street trees planted in sidewalk tree wells include willow oak and red 
oak. Low, circular concrete planters near the awning entrance of the 
West Wing of the White House contain junipers. 

A long canvas awning and concrete planters with evergreen shrubs 
and seasonal plantings mark the basement level entrance to the West 
Wing of the White House from West Executive Avenue. The lower 
floor windows of the West Wing have planter boxes with seasonal 
flowering plants in the spring, summer, and fall. 


Ancillary Structures 

A small guardhouse at the north entrance and a larger guardhouse at 
the south entrance serve as major entry points for staff. A wrought- 
iron gate flanked by two stone pillars provides access from West 
Executive Avenue to the north lawn. 


Vehicular and Pedestrian Circulation 

West Executive Avenue and the angled parking spaces along both 
sides of the roadway are paved in asphalt; the concrete sidewalks 
adjacent to the avenue are scored with a square pattern and edged 
with granite curbing on both sides. 


Site Furnishings 

A low granite retaining wall and a wrought-iron fence along the 
perimeter of the White House grounds limit general public access. 
The pedimented stone gateposts and wrought-iron gates at the 
Pennsylvania Avenue and State Place entrances to West Executive 


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Chapter 9. The While House and President's Park Today 



Lafayette Park 


Avenue are similar to those at the north lawn access points. Concrete 
bollards and metal chains also mark the Pennsylvania Avenue entry. 


Millet-style lampposts are used at regular intervals along both sides 
of the street. 


Views 

From West Executive Avenue it is possible to view portions of the 
north lawn of the White House grounds, Pennsylvania Avenue, the 
Old Executive Office Building, and State Place. 


Lafayette Park 

Lafayette Park comprises the entire block bounded by H Street, 
Pennsylvania Avenue, Madison Place, and Jackson Place. Centered on 
the north-south axis of 1 6th Street, the park slopes gently southeast 
toward Pennsylvania Avenue. The park contains a variety of canopy 
and ornamental trees and shrubs arranged informally amid a 
geometric network of brick paths (figure 9-8). The five monumental 
and commemorative statues in the park honor military heroes. The 
central equestrian statue of Andrew Jackson occupies the point 
where the north and south parabolic walks intersect the 16th Street 
axis. The four corner monuments honor European military leaders 
who supported the American cause during the Revolution — the 
Marquis de Lafayette, the Comte de Rochambeau, Baron von 
Steuben, and Brigadier General Tadeusz Kosciuszko. 

Buildings around Lafayette Park have uniform setbacks and range in 
height from four to eight stories on the north and three to five 
stories on the east and west. They orient the square south toward 
the more open landscape of the White House. 


Uses 

The park is primarily a public common that provides a setting for 
informal and unstructured outdoor recreational activities as well as a 
major open space north of the White House. 

The park's proximity to and visibility from the White House have 
made it a frequently used site for First Amendment demonstrations. 
The sidewalk along the south side of the park, directly across Penn- 
sylvania Avenue from the White House, is the primary location for 
demonstrators and placards (figure 9-30), but on occasion demon- 


384 


PART II: EXISTING CONDITIONS 



strations have taken the form of temporary encampments within the Lafayette Park 

park itself. 

The park traditionally has provided the urban area with a landscaped 
open space for strolling, sunning, lunching, playing chess, and 
enjoying other casual outdoor recreational activities. Today's park 
visitors frequently feed the park's numerous squirrels, pigeons, and 
seagulls. 


Landscape Design 

Within the park the network of elliptical, parabolic, and parallel 
paths define the varied geometrically shaped lawn panels, which con- 
tain a wide variety of canopy and ornamental trees, shrubs, and 
seasonal flower planting beds. Paired walkways oriented north-south 
through the center of the park define the 16th Street axis. The 
elliptical brick path is symmetrical about both the 16th Street axis 
and a central east-west axis, with the Jackson statue at the inter- 
section of the two axes. Parabolic brick paths to the north and south 
connect the Jackson statue with the monuments located at the 
park's four corners. The two major lawn panels astride the east-west 
axis each contain an elliptical pool and are connected to the walkway 
system by smaller brick paths. A concrete ramp and slightly elevated 
platform provide universal accessibility to the NPS kiosk. 

The two pools are of exposed aggregate concrete. Each pool contains 
two circular arrangements of inward- and upward-pointing water 
jets surrounding a central water jet; submersible floodlights provide 
nighttime illumination. 

Much of the vegetation in the park is mature, and some of the older 
trees appear to be in decline. The diversity of species provides a rich, 
green setting for the park in summer as well as an interesting variety 
of plant forms and growth habits in winter. Vegetation consists of 
deciduous canopy trees, flowering trees and shrubs, and evergreen 
trees and shrubs set within geometric expanses of lawn. There are 
seasonal plantings of bulbs, annuals, and perennials in the rec- 
tangular panels north and south of the Jackson statue and in the 
circular mounds at the bases of the four corner monuments. The 
American Peace Society, the American Institute of Park Executives, 
and the Daughters of the American Revolution have sponsored 
commemorative tree plantings. Azaleas are planted on the elliptical 
mound at the base of the Jackson statue, and a yew hedge encloses 
the adjacent plaza. 

The park contains a number of features related to its pedestrian and 
vehicular circulation systems, such as street curbing, granite 


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Lafayette Park 


walkway edging, and light posts. Fencing types include both cast- 
iron and post-and-chain styles. Site furnishings include benches, 
game tables, and seats on the west side of the park, and drinking 
fountains, trash receptacles, and a bird feeder near the east pool. 


Commemorative Features 

Each monument in the park features a bronze portrait sculpture of 
its subject atop a stone pedestal and is decorated with additional 
figural bronze sculptures, stone carvings, and inscriptions. The four 
corner monuments are located at the centers of circular earthen 
mounds edged with granite curbing and planted with azaleas. 

Installed in 1853, the Jackson statue — the oldest of the five — faces 
west and is elevated on a granite pedestal with canted sides. The 
statue depicts Jackson on a rearing horse at the Battle of New 
Orleans (figure 9-31). The west side of the pedestal is inscribed "The 
Federal Union, It Must Be Preserved," above which is inscribed 
"Jackson." Cannon captured by Jackson in Pensacola, Florida, point 
outward from each of the four corners of the pedestal. The statue is 
on an elliptical landscaped mound edged with granite curbing. The 
mound, approximately 3 feet high, is planted with grass. A contin- 
uous cast-iron fence of round pickets with lance-shaped finials 
separates the mound from a surrounding rectangular brick-paved 
area; there is a gate of similar design on the north side. A clipped yew 
hedge approximately 18 inches high borders the brick paved area on 
the east and west. 

The Marquis de Lafayette statue faces south at the park's southeast 
corner. Installed in 1891, the bronze portrait statue is 8 feet tall and 
4 feet wide; it is set atop a 28-foot-tall marble pedestal featuring 
bronze sculpture groups on each side (figure 9-32). On the south 
face a seated female allegorical figure of the United States 
imploringly hands a sword to the general. The east face features 
portrait statues of the Comte d'Estaing and the Comte de Grasse. On 
the west is a portrait group of the Comte de Rochambeau and the 
Chevalier du Portail. The north face includes two cherubs holding 
hands and indicating a cartouche, on which is inscribed, "By the 
Congress in commemoration of the services rendered by Lafayette 
and his compatriots during the struggle for independence of the 
United States of America." 

The Comte de Rochambeau statue, dated 1901, faces south at the 
southwest corner of the park. It features an 8-foot statue of 
Rochambeau atop an ornate granite pedestal. He is holding a 
windblown map and pointing southwest (figure 9-33). On the 


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monument's south side, at Rochambeau's feet, a bronze allegorical 
group symbolizes French assistance to the American Revolution. The 
Rochambeau family coat of arms is carved on the west face of the 
pedestal; the French coat of arms is on the east. The north face bears 
the inscription: "We have been contemporaries and fellow laborers in 
the cause of liberty and we have lived together as brothers should do 
in harmonious friendship — Washington to Rochambeau, February 
1, 1794." 

The Baron von Steuben statue, installed in the park’s northwest 
corner in 1910, features an 8-foot bronze portrait sculpture facing 
northwest and standing atop a massive granite pedestal with applied 
bronze ornament and bas-relief carvings (figure 9-34). On the 
pedestal's northeast face is a large bronze allegorical group, "Military 
Instruction," depicting a seated warrior demonstrating the use of a 
sword to a youth. On the southwest another group, "Com- 
memoration," depicts a woman and child grafting a branch onto a 
tree, symbolizing American gratitude and acceptance of Prussian 
assistance during the American Revolution. The front (northwest) 
face features a lengthy inscription in bronze, and the southeast face 
bears a plaque in relief honoring Col. William North and Maj. 
Benjamin Walker, von Steuben's aides-de-camp. 

The General Kosciuszko statue was installed in the northeast corner 
of the park in 1910. The 8-foot bronze portrait sculpture of the 
general faces north and stands atop a granite pedestal inscribed 
"Kosciuszko" (figure 9-35). Two figural groups are located on the 
east and west sides of the pedestal. The group on the east face depicts 
Kosciuszko in an American uniform freeing a captured American 
soldier. The group on the west face shows a fallen Kosciuszko 
commanding a soldier representing the Polish army. The pedestal's 
north face features an eagle with outspread wings atop a quarter 
globe above the inscription "Saratoga." A similar sculpture of an 
eagle struggling with a snake on a quarter globe showing Poland is 
located on the south face of the pedestal above the inscription 
"Raclawice." The south face of the pedestal also bears the inscrip- 
tions, "And freedom shrieked as Kosciuszko fell," and "Erected by the 
Polish National Alliance of America and presented to the United 
States on behalf of the Polish American citizens. May 1 1, 1910." 

Other commemorative features in the park include the cannon at the 
Jackson statue and the two ornate bronze Navy Yard urns set atop 
classically designed granite pedestals on the Pennsylvania Avenue 
side of the park (figures 9-36). A bench at the northwest corner of 
the paved area surrounding the Andrew Jackson statue was dedi- 
cated as the Bernard Baruch Bench of Inspiration by the National 
Capital Area Council and the Boy Scouts of America in 1960. A 


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commemorative plaque is affixed to a granite marker adjacent to the 
bench (figure 9-37). 


Ancillary Structures 

The lodge, located between the north parabolic path and the sidewalk 
along H Street, is the only major element that deviates from the 
park's symmetrical organization. This is the only surviving struc- 
ture of four identical buildings erected in Lafayette, Lincoln, Franklin, 
and Judiciary Squares. The one-story, three-bay wood-frame struc- 
ture is covered in tan-painted stucco and has a flat roof behind a low 
parapet (figure 9-38). It contains a storeroom, a locker room, and 
two restrooms (which have been closed for public health reasons); 
there is an exterior walled enclosure on the north side. 

The NPS kiosk is just to the southwest, adjacent to the paired central 
walks. It is a hexagonal, wood-frame and glass structure, painted 
green and blue with white trim. It has a hexagonal, concave pavilion 
roof with broad overhangs. 


Vehicular and Pedestrian Circulation 

The rectangular park set within the city grid provides a focal point 
for the streets that radiate from the park. Pennsylvania Avenue has 
been closed to public vehicular traffic since 1995. H Street carries two 
lanes of traffic in both east and west directions, with limited parking 
(primarily for tour buses) along the eastbound side. Traffic signals 
are installed at the intersection with Jackson Place and Connecticut 
Avenue (northwest corner), Madison Place and Vermont Avenue 
(northeast corner), and with 16th Street midway along the northern 
park boundary. Jackson Place is limited to northbound traffic only. 
Parallel parking is permitted along the east side of the street, with 
angled pull-in parking along the west side. Madison Place provides 
for single lanes of traffic in both north- and southbound directions. 
Parallel permit-only parking occupies the east side of the street; the 
curb lane along the west side of the street accommodates public bus 
stops. 

Sidewalks surrounding the park are brick, as are the sidewalks across 
from the park along Jackson and Madison Places. Rectangular tree 
wells are set into the brick sidewalks; they are generally consistent in 
size but irregularly spaced. The sidewalks along the south side of 
Pennsylvania Avenue and the north side of H Street are concrete. 


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Site Furnishings 


Lafayette Park 


The park's benches have cast-iron frames supporting wood slat seats 
and backs. They generally are arranged in linear groupings and 
mounted on brick paved areas adjacent to the paths. 

The park's wood-slat litter containers with removable metal liners 
are similar in design to the benches. In general, the park's site fur- 
nishings are constructed of durable materials such as granite 
(curbing, edging), exposed aggregate concrete (game tables/seats, 
drinking fountain), cast iron (Saratoga-style light posts, benches; see 
figure 9-39), and bronze (cannon, urns). The wooden parts of 
benches and trash receptacles show evidence of weathering and 
deterioration, and some of the light post luminaires are broken or 
missing. 


View’s 


Just as Lafayette Park is a visual focus within the city grid and 
forms an important viewshed for the White House north lawn, it 
also provides an important vantage point for views to other focal 
areas in the city. Each of the three major radiating streets originating 
at the park is associated with other focal areas along its length that 
are visible from Lafayette Park. The view north along 1 6th Street to 
Scott Circle is a major organizing element of the park's central 
north-south axis and parallels the major view available from the 
north portico of the White House. There are additional views from 
the northwest corner of the park, up Connecticut Avenue to Farragut 
Square, and from the northeast corner up Vermont Avenue to 
McPherson Square. The most notable view, however, is to the south 
of the north facade and north lawn of the White House, a view made 
more prominent by the slightly higher elevation of the park 
compared to Pennsylvania Avenue. 


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President's Park South 


President's Park South 


President's Park South consists of the Ellipse proper, Sherman Plaza, 
and the First Division Monument. 


The Ellipse 

The Ellipse, the large public open space south of the White House 
grounds, measures approximately 1,600 feet by 1,100 feet. The 
most prominent feature is the elliptical lawn — 1,000 feet by 850 
feet — bordered by a road (figure 9-40). There are masses of large 
canopy and ornamental trees and some shrubs, along with paved 
curvilinear walks, to the west and east. Lawn and trees occupy much 
of the space south of the Ellipse. The Ellipse contains recreational 
facilities, a visitor pavilion, monuments, and memorials. 

A consistent urban edge is given to the Ellipse by buildings lining 
15th and 17th Streets. Three large, well-known freestanding 
buildings — the American Red Cross Building, the Organization of 
American States headquarters, and Memorial Continental Hall — are 
aligned with a consistent setback to the west along 1 7th Street across 
from the Ellipse. The Department of Commerce building is opposite 
the Ellipse on 15th Street, extending the entire block between 
Constitution and Pennsylvania Avenues. 


L/ses 

Current uses associated with the Ellipse are similar to what they 
have been traditionally: open space used primarily for recreation, 
commemoration, cultural events, and ceremonies. The Ellipse visitor 
pavilion provides basic visitor services. In addition there are limited 
service/support and supply/storage uses. Vendors selling food, 
clothing, and souvenirs set up temporary booths along 15th and 
17th Streets during the day (figure 9-41). 

Cultural traditions associated with the Ellipse include the lighting of 
the National Christmas Tree each year in early December and the 
annual Christmas Pageant of Peace. The National Christmas Tree is 
decorated with ornaments and lights, as are 56 smaller trees 
representing states and territories. Infrastructure for the event in- 
cludes painted wood identification signs for each state or territory; 
plywood walks with metal chain-and-bollard edging set in concrete 
blocks; a stage and a plywood amphitheater painted blue that faces 
the stage; temporary folding chairs for performances; a nativity 
scene constructed of wood and plywood; a brick fire pit containing 


390 


PART II: EXISTING CONDITIONS 



"Ye Olde Yule Log"; chain-link pens for eight reindeer; a plywood 
box containing a large television that plays a videotape of the 
previous year's lighting ceremony; and speakers for a sound system. 
A temporary gravel road provides access for official vehicles to 
Pageant of Peace events. 

At other times of the year various parts of the Ellipse are used for 
both passive and active recreational purposes. Facilities include six 
sand horseshoe pitches on the eastern side and a sand volleyball court 
on the western side. 

Commemorative uses are related to the area's military memorials. 
Memorial and/or military ceremonies occur in Sherman Plaza, at the 
First Division Monument, and the Second Division Memorial on 
Memorial Day and Veterans' Day, as well as in conjunction with 
other scheduled events and observances. 


Landscape Design 

The primary organizing element of the Ellipse is its central lawn. The 
lawn's elliptical form is reinforced by the concentric arrangement of 
the sidewalk, a row of American elms, and the Ellipse Road. The 
National Christmas Tree is planted at the northern end of the Ellipse, 
just east of the central north-south axis from the White House 
(figure 9-42). The large Second Division Memorial is sited in the 
southwestern portion of the Ellipse, the Bulfinch gatehouses mark 
the southeast and southwest corners, and the two Haupt fountains 
flank the entrance from Constitution Avenue. 

Historically, the Ellipse area was a marshy floodplain of the Tiber 
Creek and the Potomac River that was filled in the 1870s. Following 
heavy rains, water pools in the southern portions of the Ellipse. Bald 
cypress trees have been planted in this area, apparently in response to 
intermittently wet conditions. Lawn drains or drop inlets have been 
installed to collect excess storm water from open lawn areas. 

Elms comprise more than half of the vegetation in the Ellipse. Rows 
of American elms border the Ellipse Road. Although careful 
maintenance practices have saved some of the trees from disease and 
death, many have been lost. American elms are also found east and 
west of the Ellipse and along Constitution Avenue and 15th and 1 7th 
Streets. The masses of trees east and west of the Ellipse include 
deciduous canopy and shade trees such as hackberry, white oak, 
Japanese scholar tree, red maple, basswood, yellow buckeye, and 
groves of bald cypress in the northeast, southeast, northwest, and 
southwest corners. Groves of evergreens have also been planted 
along the western side of the area beyond the Ellipse. Species include 


President's Park South 


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President’s Park South 


American holly, Colorado blue spruce, white pine, and fir. Flowering 
trees and shrubs are also found in the areas east and west of the 
Ellipse, including cornelian cherry and star magnolia east of the 
Ellipse. 


Commemorative Features 

The Second Division Memorial is in the southwestern portion of the 
Ellipse facing Constitution Avenue (figure 9-43). The memorial's 
large, tripartite, pink granite wall provides an architectural backdrop 
for a monumental gold-leafed sculpture of a hand wielding a flaming 
sword. The sculpture, which is framed in a central opening in the 
granite wall, is set on a granite pedestal inscribed "To Our Dead 
1917-1919." The names of battles in which Second Division forces 
died are engraved and highlighted in gilt on the granite walls on each 
side of the central opening. The flanking low granite walls, which 
were added in 1962, bear inscriptions commemorating Second 
Division losses in World War II on the west wall and in Korea on the 
east wall. Three wide stairs lead from the surrounding lawn to a dais 
enclosed by the granite walls. A tall metal flagpole to display the 
American flag marks each of the two front corners of the 
symmetrical memorial. Plantings of American holly and clipped 
Japanese holly hedges surround the memorial on the north. There 
are flower beds for seasonal displays of pansies, and annuals at the 
western and eastern edges of the memorial. 

The Boy Scout Memorial is due east of the Ellipse adjacent to 15th 
Street (figure 9-44). The primary focus of the memorial is an 
elliptical pool about 18 inches deep, located in the center of a granite 
terrace. The pool has an inscribed granite coping that reads 

Tliis memorial was authorized by the Congress of the 
United States and created in recognition of the fiftieth 
anniversary of the Boy Scouts of America in grateful tribute 
to the men and women whose generosity, devotion, and 
leadership have brought scouting to the nation's youth and 
to honor all members of the Boy Scouts of America who in 
days of peace and times of peril have done their duty to God 
and their country. 

A bronze sculpture of a uniformed scout stands northeast of the 
pool, accompanied by two classical figures, a woman (Motherhood) 
holding a gilded flame and a man (Fatherhood) holding an oak 
branch, a helmet, and a cloak. The Boy Scout motto is engraved on 
the northwest side of the statue's hexagonal granite base. Backless 
benches of wood slats with concrete bases that bear bronze 
medallions of the Boy Scout emblem are set on concrete foundations 


392 


PART II: EXISTING CONDITIONS 



facing the pool. Since the Ellipse walk network does not extend into 
the memorial area, foot traffic has worn earthen paths in the lawn 
between the Ellipse visitor pavilion and the memorial. 

The Butt-Millet memorial fountain was installed in 1913 to com- 
memorate Archibald Butt and Francis Davis Millet, two prominent 
Washington passengers who died in 1912 on the Titanic. Located 
near the crosswalk leading between the Ellipse and the First Division 
Monument, the granite fountain with its central square column is 
set on an octagonal pedestal with an aggregate concrete base {figure 
9-45). 


The two Haupt fountains, which flank the central entrance to the 
Ellipse Road from Constitution Avenue, were gifts of Enid Annenberg 
Haupt. Designed by Catherine Henry, sculpted by Gordon Newell, 
and installed in 1969, each fountain is an 18-foot-square slab of 
Minnesota rainbow granite with rough-cut edges and a polished 
upper face. Within each square slab is a circular basin with a single 
central jet; the basin is supported by a brick pedestal that extends 
outward at its base to form a surrounding circular, brick-paved 
terrace (figure 9-46). 

The Ellipse also includes several smaller monuments. The Zero 
Milestone, a 4-foot-tall shaft of pink granite topped with a bronze 
compass, commemorates the location of the first and second 
transcontinental motor convoys across the Lincoln Highway in 1919 
and 1920 and marks the official starting point of all U.S. roads 
(figure 9-47). It is in the center of the elliptical walkway at the 
northern end of the Ellipse, on axis with the White House and the 
Jefferson Memorial. The bronze engineering marker of the Historic 
American Engineering Survey is set in the sidewalk adjacent to the 
milestone’s base. The Memorial to the Original Patentees of the 
District of Columbia is next to the sidewalk adjacent to 15th Street. 
The memorial, a granite shaft installed in 1936 through the efforts 
of the Daughters of the American Revolution, is inscribed with the 
names of the patentees whose land grants embraced the site of the 
federal city (figure 9-48). A small bronze plaque honors John Saul, 
the horticulturalist who assisted Andrew Jackson Downing with the 
plantings in President's Park. 


Ancillary Structures 

The two gatehouses at the intersections of Constitution Avenue with 
15th and 17th Streets were designed by Charles Bulfinch, architect of 
the Capitol (figure 9-49). Originally placed near the U.S. Capitol, 
they were moved to their present locations in 1880. The gatehouses 


President's Pari: South 


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President's Park South 


are built of cut, rough-finished sandstone. Each front facade has an 
intricately carved frieze, cornice, and rectangular pediment. Doric 
columns flank the circular-headed entry. The two structures are 
identical apart from the square stone blocks supporting the columns 
on the west gatehouse. A stone gatepost, similar in design to the 
gatehouses, is located near the east Bulfinch gatehouse at the 
northwest corner of 15th Street and Constitution Avenue. Two 
similar gateposts are located just outside the project area at the 
southwest and southeast corners of the intersection. 

The Ellipse visitor pavilion is in the northeast quadrant of the Ellipse 
near E Street and sited in the midst of mature elms (figure 9-50). 
Designed by Oehrlein and Associates, the pavilion faces the Ellipse 
Road. It is a one-story stucco-clad building painted light gray with 
white trim. The low-pitched hipped roof of standing seam metal has 
a prefinished steel cornice and is supported by a colonnade of 24 
cast-stone columns. This colonnade creates a broad covered area that 
shelters visitors from wind, sun, and precipitation. The pavilion sits 
on a terrace paved in cast concrete and granite; additional concrete 
pavers extend beyond the terrace and link with the Ellipse sidewalk 
system. Low concrete walls and broad, shallow concrete steps define 
the terrace edges; the walls provide informal visitor seating and 
accommodate planting beds at the terrace corners. The pavilion, 
intended as a temporary facility with an expected life of about a 
decade, provides restroom facilities, an information desk, a food 
service station, ticket windows, a first-aid station, an NPS office and 
locker room, and a sales area. 


Vehicular and Pedestrian Circulation 

Three entry roads connect the Ellipse Road to 15th Street and the 
intersections of Constitution Avenue with 15th Street and 17th 
Street on the northeast, southeast, and southwest, respectively. To 
the north, the east-west alignment of E Street digresses southward 
where South Executive Avenue and the Ellipse Road join it. The 
Ellipse and its side panels are bound by 1 7th Street, E Street, 15th 
Street, and Constitution Avenue, which are paved with asphalt and 
have brick gutters and granite curbing. Crosswalks and granite 
wheelchair ramps are provided. 

The wide concrete sidewalk along Constitution Avenue is scored in a 
square pattern; the same materials are used for the narrower 
sidewalk along 15th Street. Part of the sidewalk along 17th Street is 
paved with rectangular pavers. Missing pavers have been replaced 
with poured concrete; in other areas there is no formal sidewalk, 
only bare earth. West of the central area, curvilinear paths paved in 


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Part II: Existing Conditions 



President’s Park South 


either concrete or asphalt run between the Ellipse Road and 17th 
Street, E Street, and Constitution Avenue. There are few paved 
pedestrian walks east of the Ellipse Road; informal pedestrian use has 
resulted in the creation of earthen paths. Other features associated 
with pedestrian circulation include metal bollards and post-and- 
chain enclosures, painted black, along E Street sidewalks and paths 
within the Ellipse, as well as steel edging along asphalt walks. 


Site Furnishings 

Ornamental and security fencing flanks the lower south lawn of the 
White House. Bollards and chains limit access to planting areas along 
pedestrian walks north of the Ellipse. During the Pageant of Peace, 
chain-link fencing and snow fencing enclose the event area to limit 
the number of access points. 

Site furnishings include wood slat and melal frame benches set on 
concrete pads along 15th and 17th Streets; backless wood-slat and 
concrete-base benches surrounding the Boy Scout Memorial; drink- 
ing fountains constructed of exposed aggregate concrete along the 
sidewalk; and plastic recycling bins and elevated wood-slat litter 
containers with metal liners throughout the site. Signs include the 
interpretive sign at the southeastern edge of the walk around the 
Ellipse lawn that identifies monument and memorial locations as 
well as various vehicular directional signs. A raised ventilation and 
utility structure of square cut granite is set atop a molded concrete 
pedestal located adjacent to 15th Street near its intersection with 
Constitution Avenue. 

Lampposts within the Ellipse are of the single-light Millet design used 
throughout metropolitan Washington, D.C., and in President's Park. 
Those located along 15th Street, 17th Street, and Constitution 
Avenue are of the twin-light Bacon design. 


Views 

From the Ellipse there are views to historic buildings along 15th and 
1 7th Streets, the Jefferson Memorial, the Washington Monument, 
and across the expansive south lawn to the south facade of the 
White House. The open Ellipse lawn extends views from the White 
House grounds to the Ellipse, the Washington Monument, and the 
Jefferson Memorial. 


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Sherman Plaza 


Sherman Plaza, south of Ihe Treasury Building and east of the White 
House grounds, occupies the entire block bounded by 15th Street, E 
Street, Hamilton Place, and South Executive Avenue (figure 9-51). 
The plaza is often seen against the backdrop of the Treasury 
Building's south facade. The focus of the parklike area is the General 
William Tecumseh Sherman statue, sited on a terrace sloping east 
and south and overlooking 15th Street and Pershing Park to the east, 
and E Street and the Ellipse to the south. 


Landscape Design 

The Sherman statue, which is on axis with the Treasury Building's 
south portico, is set in a lawn traversed by diagonal walks and domi- 
nated by numerous mature willow oak trees. The monument is 
slightly east of the center of the plaza (figure 5-17). Its location 
overlooks the sloping portions of the site, giving it a commanding 
presence when viewed from 15th Street or E Street. Within the 
surrounding landscape areas, diagonal walks of cast-in-place exposed 
aggregate concrete lead to the monument plaza, also paved with 
exposed-aggregate concrete. Approach walkways respond to the 
varying topography of the site, with the northwest walk nearly 
level, the southwest and northeast walks at a gentle incline, and the 
southeast walk incorporating broad stairs to traverse the steeper 
sloped portions of the site. Granite walls, approximately 18 inches 
high and terminating with volutes, mark the junctions of the 
walkways with the paved plaza. 

Willow oaks set in the broad expanses of grassy lawn extend along 
the four sides of Sherman Plaza, with a double row on the park's 
west side and a single row on the east. The edges of the monument 
plaza are defined by Japanese holly hedges enclosing planting beds of 
seasonal bulbs and annuals. There are azalea beds where the diagonal 
walks intersect with the sidewalks. Precast concrete planters are 
positioned along Hamilton Place and at the park's southwest corner. 


Commemorative Feature 

The monument features a bronze equestrian statue of William 
Tecumseh Sherman facing north, set atop a granite pedestal deco- 
rated with bronze figural sculptures, scenic plaques and medallions. 
The pedestal sits on a granite platform with life-sized bronze soldiers 
at each of its four corners. Steps lead from the platform on each side 
to a terrazzo terrace with inlaid decoration and inscriptions. 


396 

PART II: EXISTING CONDITIONS 



Pedestrian Circulation 


President's Park South 


Sidewalks surround Sherman Plaza on all four sides. The walk along 
15th Street is 18 feet 4 inches wide, with rectangular tree wells 
spaced at regular intervals. This sidewalk features precast, exposed 
aggregate concrete panels with the dark gray granite strips that are 
characteristic of newer sidewalks throughout President's Park. Side- 
walks along the other three street frontages consist of more tradi- 
tional, cast-in-place, exposed-aggregate concrete paving. Sidewalks 
along South Executive Avenue are 10 feet wide; along Hamilton Place 
they range from 6 feet wide at the ends to 16 feet 3 inches wide in 
the middle. They are accompanied by continuous planting strips next 
to the street. Granite curbing defines the street edges of Sherman 
Plaza on the north, east, and south; on the west curbing is of sand- 
colored concrete. 


Site Furnishings 

Cast-iron Millet lampposts are set symmetrically within each side of 
the Japanese holly hedge. Rows of cast-iron and wood benches — 
five each on the north and south sides and six each on the east and 
west — are located inside the granite walls around the statue; a cast- 
iron trash receptacle is located at both ends of each row. A bronze 
drinking fountain is near the northwest corner of the plaza. 


Views 

There are three principal views looking east, north, and south from 
Sherman Plaza. The more prominent views to the north and south 
are unobscured by trees; the view north is of the south facade of the 
Treasury Building while that to the south is of the Ellipse landscape, 
with the Washington Monument in the distance. The view east is 
toward Pershing Park and the Post Office tower. Both the Treasury 
facade and the Sherman statue are visible when looking north from E 
Street. 


First Division Monument 

The First Division Monument is prominently located on an elevated 
site in the northern part of the block bounded by State Place, South 
Executive Avenue, E Street, and 17th Street. Originally the monu- 
ment was dedicated to the memory of First Division members who 
died during World War I, but subsequently it has been expanded to 
include First Division losses during World War II and in Korea and 


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Vietnam (figure 9-52). A lawn that is shaded by masses of canopy 
trees covers much of the landscape surrounding the monument. 


Landscape Design 

Granite stairs with flanking granite cheekwalls descend from the 
central paved terrace to the lawn south of the monument, and are set 
in a sloping, grass-planted bank that provides a transition in grade 
from the monument to the lawn. As a result of the raised grade and 
to prevent root suffocation for the large canopy trees near the 
monument’s base, dry-laid stone tree wells are set into the bank 
along the southern edge. 

Clipped yew hedges border the earthen terraces on the north and 
south of the monument. Additional plantings of yew surround the 
monument on the east and west sides. A seasonal planting bed in the 
shape of a large number one is the dominant lawn feature south of 
the monument. In keeping with the First Division nickname of "Big 
Red One," it is planted with red flowering species during the spring, 
summer, and fall months. Other vegetation includes a mixed 
deciduous canopy of trees that is primarily composed of American 
lindens planted in the grass lawn. 


Commemorative Feature 

The rectangular monument, installed in October 1924, was designed 
by Cass Gilbert and sculpted by Daniel Chester French. It is sym- 
metrical in design and measures approximately 200 feet long and 75 
feet wide. The monument's tripartite ground plane features a central 
paved terrace of granite sets, flanked by two earthen terraces that 
terminate in granite walls. Its central focus is a tall marble and 
granite column set on a granite pedestal and topped by a gilded 
bronze figure of Lady Victory, located in the center of the paved 
terrace. Bronze plaques on the pedestal bear the names of First 
Division members who died in World War I. The granite walls at the 
west end of the monument commemorate First Division losses 
during World War II (designed by Cass Gilbert Jr. and added in 
1957). A central inscribed granite monolith is flanked by low granite 
walls and topped with bronze plaques bearing the names of division 
casualties. Similarly arranged granite walls at the east end of the 
monument commemorate First Division losses in Vietnam added in 
1977. Exposed aggregate concrete walks link the World War II and 
Vietnam portions of the monument to the central paved terrace. 


398 

Part II: Existing Conditions 



Pedestrian Circulation 


President's Park South 


Scored concrete sidewalks are adjacent to each of the four bordering 
streets. A steel-edged asphalt walk extends diagonally northwest to 
southeast from the intersection of State Place and f 7th Street to the 
intersection of South Executive Avenue and E Street- 


Site Furnishings 

Wood slat benches with metal frames, similar in design to those used 
in Lafayette Park, face the sidewalk along 1 7th Street. 


Views 

Views from the First Division Monument area include the historic 
buildings along 1 7th Street, the Old Executive Office Building, and 
the Ellipse lawn. 


399 

Chapter 9. The White House and President's Park Today 






400 


Part II: Existing Conditions 



Exhibit 9.1: The Grounds of the White House — Existing Conditions Features, 1994 

Feature Number* / Feature 

('The first digit of the numbering system refers to the chapter 
of this document where the feature is first described.) 


The North Lawn 

206 Entry Drive 
214 North Portico 
423 Granite Curb at Entry Drive 
439 Fountain 

443 Benjamin Harrison Scarlet Oak 

607 Saucer Magnolia 

612 Franklin D. Roosevelt White Oak 

703 Harry S. Truman Boxwood 

705 Azaleas 

726 Guardhouses 

729 Lady Bird Johnson Fern-leaf Beech 
734 Iron Fencing along Pennsylvania 
Avenue with Lighting Fixtures 
801 POrte Cochere 
804 Patricia Nixon Fern-leaf Beech 
808 Betty Ford American Elm 
810 Jimmy Carter Red Maple 
816 Nancy Reagan Saucer Magnolias 
822 Ronald Reagan Sugar Maple 

840 Sidewalk Flanking Entry Drive 

841 Japanese Yews along Pedestrian Walk 
849 Bollards along Pennsylvania Avenue 


The LIpper South Lawn 

113 West Terrace 

119 Jefferson Mounds 

210 South Portico 

215 Jackson Southern Magnolias 

412 Transverse Road 

504 East Terrace 

602 Magnolia Patio 

605 Herbert Hoover White Oak 

616 Circular Road 

618 Franklin D. Roosevelt Small-leaved 
Linden 

704 Southern Magnolia 

712 Dwight D. Eisenhower Pin Oak 

713 Dwight D. Eisenhower Red Oak 

717 West Garden (Rose Garden) 

718 John F. Kennedy Saucer Magnolias 

720 East Garden (Jacqueline Kennedy 
Garden) 

721 Pool in East Garden 

723 Lyndon B. Johnson Willow Oak 
726 Guardhouses 


807 Swimming Pool and Canbana 
809 Gerald Ford White Pine 
813 Jimmy Carter Cedar of Lebanon 
820 Black Gum 

824 President's Patio 

825 Chief of Staff's Patio 

827 Ronald Reagan Willow Oak 

829 Horseshoe Court 

830 George H. W. Bush Patmore Ash 

834 George H. W. Bush Eastern Redbud 

835 Grafting John Q. Adams Elm 

836 George H. W. Bush and Queen 
Elizabeth II Small-leaved Linden 

837 George H. W. Bush Rivers Purple 
Beech 

838 Putting Green 
842 Jogging Track 

844 William Clinton Small-leaved Linden 
846 Pergola in East Garden 
848 Hillary Rodham Clinton Dogwoods 
851 Time Capsule and Marker 


The Lower South Lawn 

411 Iron Fence 
426 Fountain 

451 Frances Folsom Cleveland Japanese 
Maple 

520 Tennis Court 

528 Flower Bed around Fountain 

606 Herbert Hoover White Oak 

702 Maintenance Building 

716 Massed Plantings 

730 Children's Garden 

811 Rosalynn Carter Japanese Maple 

821 Hybrid Elms 

832 Flagstone Walk to Children's Garden 
839 Basketball Half-court and Horseshoe 
Pitch 

843 President and Mrs. Clinton Willow 
Oak 

845 President and Mrs. Clinton American 
Elm 

850 Bollards along South Executive 
Avenue 


401 

Chapter 9. The White House and President's Park Today 




403 

Chapter 9. The White House and President’s Park Today 


Pennsylvania Avenue 



Exhibit 9.1 : The Grounds of the White House — Existing Conditions Features, 1994 










Exhibit 9-2: President's Park — Existing Conditions Features, 1994 


Feature Number* / Feature 

(*The first digit of the numbering system refers to the chapter 
of this document where the feature is first described.) 


Lafayette Park 


President's Park South 
The Ellipse 


307 

Andrew Jackson Statue 



418 

Navy Yard Urns 

433 

Ellipse Road 

427 

Gun Carriages 

518 

Sidewalk around Ellipse Road 

446 

Lafayette Statue 

555 

Zero Milestone 

454 

Fence around Jackson Statue 

728 

Paths 

502 

Rochambeau Statue 

815 

Backup Christmas Tree 

523 

von Steuben Statue 

847 

Visitor Pavilion 

524 

Kosciuszko Statue 

848 

John Saul Plaque 

534 

Lodge 



715 

Bernard Baruch Bench of Inspiration 



732 

Elliptical Pools 


Sherman Plaza 

736 

NPS Information Kiosk 



737 

Game Tables 

512 

Sherman Statue 


East Executive Park 

551 Warren Harding Southern Magnolia 
624 Franklin D. Roosevelt Magnolia 
726 Guardhouses 

852 East Fountain 

853 Information Panels 


West Executive Avenue 

726 Guardhouses 

727 Covered Entry 


The Grounds of the Treasury Building 

556 Hamilton Statue 
628 Gallatin Statue 
701 Replica of Liberty Bell 


Old Executive Office Building 
531 Concrete Urns 


405 

Chapter 9. The White House and President's Park Today 




407 





















Figure 9-1 : The North Facade of the White House, 


409 

Chapter 9 . Pie White House and President's Park Today 






410 

Part U: Existi.nc Conditions 










413 

Chapter 9. Vie White House ami President's Park Today 




Figure 9 6: Millet-Style Lamppost (Washington, P.C., Globe). 


414 

Fart II: Existing Conditions 



415 

Chapter 9 . The White House and President's Park Today 








417 

Chapter 9. The White House and President 's Park Today 





418 

Part II: Existing Conditions 





419 

Chapter 9. The White House anil President's fork Today 




420 

Part II: Existing Conditions 




421 

Chapiter 9 . the White House and President's Park Today 







423 

Chapter 9. the White House and President's Park Today 




Figure 9-16: The While House South Fountain (looking southeast) 



424 


Part II: Existing Conditions 






jwrw i ^ ^ 





Figure 9-18: Evergreens in Wooden Planters along the White House Transverse Road. 


I’aki II: Existing Conditions 






427 

Chapter 9. The White House arul President's Park Today 











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Figure 9-2 1 : Stalin’ of Albert Gallatin on the North Terrace of the Treasury Building. 



429 

Chapter 9. Vie White House and President's Park Today 









431 

Chapter 9. The White House oriel President's Park Today 




Figure 9-24: Granite I'icr anti Iron Fencing al the Old P.xecutive Office Building (northeast 
corner). 


432 

Part 11: Existing Conditions 




Figure 9-25: Urn at North Terrace of the Old Executive Office Building. 


433 

Chapter 9. The White House and President's Turk Today 







435 

Chapter 9. The White House and President's Park Today 






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Figure 9 37: The Bernard Baruch Bench of Inspiration and Commemorative Plaque. 



445 

Chapter 9. The White House and President's Park Today 










mill 

mill 


Figure 9-38: The Lodge in Lafayette Tark 


Part II: Existing Conditions 








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Figure 9-46: The WesI Haupt Fountain. 


Part II: Existing Conditions 






455 

Chapter 9. The White House and President's fork Today 







Figure 9-48: DAR Memorial to the Settlers of the District of Columbia 
( District Patentees Memorial) 


Part II Kxistini, Conpitions 













Figure 9-50: The Ellipse Visitor Pavilion 


Part 11: Existing Conditions 






459 

Chapter V. The While House and President's Park Today 





Figure 9-52: The First Division Monument 


Paht II : Existing Conditions 


The White House 
and President's Park 



Part III: Significance and Integrity 







Chapter 10. Evaluation of Significance 


T he White House and President's Park are currently listed on 
the National Register of Historic Places and recorded on five 
inventory/nomination forms: one each for the White 
House, President's Park South (or the Ellipse), the Lafayette 
Square Historic District, the United States Department of the 
Treasury, and the Old Executive Office Building (now the Dwight D. 
Eisenhower Executive Office Building). The five forms were prepared 
between 1959 and 1979, a period when little research had been done 
on the history of American landscape architecture and few reliable 
publications were available on the subject. On only two of the 
forms — President's Park South and the Lafayette Square Historic 
District — is landscape architecture checked off as an area of 
significance, and even on these two forms the history of the land- 
scapes and their significance is only briefly discussed. 1 

Properties may be eligible for the National Register of Historic Places 
under three values and four criteria. They may be eligible because of 
their associative value (criteria A and B), their design or construction 
value (criterion C), or their information value (criterion D). Accord- 
ing to national register standards, properties may be eligible for the 
national register under the following criteria: 

Criterion A: If they are associated with events that have made 
a significant contribution to the broad patterns of our 
history. 

Criterion B: If they are associated with the lives of persons 
significant in our past. 

Criterion C: If they embody the distinctive characteristics of a 
type, period, or method of construction, or represent the 
work of a master, or possess high artistic values, or represent 
a significant and distinguishable entity whose components 
may lack individual distinction. 


1 . NPS, National Survey of Historic Sites and Buildings, "The White House" 
(Washington, DC, 1959); National Register of Historic Places Inventory /Nomination Forms: 
"President's Park South" (Washington, DC, 1979), "Lafayette Square Historic District" 
(1970), "United States Department of the Treasury" (1971); "Executive Office Building" 
(1971); "L'Enfant Plan of the City of Washington, District of Columbia" (1994). 



Criterion A: Event 


Criterion D: If they have yielded, or may be likely to yield, 
information important in prehistory or history. 2 

The landscape of President's Park meets criteria A through C. This 
report recommends that the President's Park landscape should be 
recognized as being of exceptional significance from 1791 through 
the present. The landscape of President's Park is one of the most 
significant in the country. Unlike most other historic sites, its sig- 
nificance derives not only from its role in the past, but from its role 
in the foreseeable future. This landscape will continue to be a symbol 
of the presidency and the nation. It will continue to be the private 
residence of the president of the United States. It will continue to 
function as the public seat of the executive branch of government 
and as the ceremonial center for the reception of national and 
international figures. It will continue to link the White House to 
other executive offices and to the legislative and judicial branches of 
government. It will continue to attract talented landscape designers 
and architects. It will continue to reflect the needs of the current 
occupants of the While House and to reveal important aspects of its 
historic evolution. It will continue to dazzle visitors with its 
immaculate lawns and floral displays. 

This report will examine the significance of the site under the criteria 
A (event), B (persons), and C (design/construction). Criterion D has 
been addressed in the "Archeological Evaluation" published in 1995. 3 


Criterion A: Event 

Context: The Presidency and the Administration of the Executive 
Branch of Government 

The landscape of President's Park is significant under criterion A of 
the National Register of Historic Places because for more than two 
centuries it has been the setting for and the symbol of the American 
presidency — a meaning that includes but transcends its association 
with individual presidents. It was planned by Washington, Jefferson, 
and L'Enfant to be not only the president's home, but the working 
center of administration, a residence and place of relaxation, and a 
ceremonial setting for entertaining visiting heads of state and 
eminent national and international figures. 


2. NFS, How to Apply the National Register Criteria for Evaluation, National Register 
bulletin 15 (Washington, DC: n.d.), 11—21. 

3. NFS, "Archeological Evaluation." 


464 

Part 111: Significance and Integrity 


Criterion A: Event 


Five landscapes compose President's Park — the White House, the 
Treasury Building, the Old Executive Office Building, Lafayette Park, 
and President's Park South. The first three are the focus of the 
administration of the executive branch of government. The other 
two components of the President's Park landscape are public parks 
with strong symbolic associations. During the early years of its 
history, Lafayette Park was known as President's Square, and to this 
day it acts as a forecourt to the White House. Additionally, it is the 
site of five commemorative sculptural figures or groups, represent- 
ing President Andrew Jackson and four Europeans who assisted 
Americans in their struggle for independence — the Marquis de 
Lafayette, the Comte de Rochambeau, Baron von Steuben, and 
General Kosciuszko. Framing the White House to the south, the 
Ellipse accommodates further sculptures and monuments, commem- 
orating individuals and groups important in the nation's history. 
The Ellipse also provides a powerful visual and symbolic link with 
the major presidential memorials just outside the boundaries of 
President's Park — those commemorating Presidents Washington, 
Jefferson, Lincoln, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The Ellipse also 
acts spatially as a fulcrum. It links the north-south axis of Presi- 
dent’s Park to the east-west axis of the Mall and the Capitol, a 
function that was inherent in the L'Enfant and Downing plans and 
that was further strengthened by the recommendations of the Senate 
Park (McMillan) Commission for the Mall formulated in 1901-2 and 
partially realized in the mid 20th century. 

Treating this complex as a single landscape makes sense for several 
physical and historical reasons. First, L'Enfant's plan presented the 
entire site as the President's House. Although the specific landscape 
features were not delineated, the design included an area that 
roughly corresponds to the size and location of President's Park 
today. Second, these five distinct units are physically very close, and 
what occurs in one area visually affects the others. For example, 
development on the Ellipse could adversely impact the open vistas to 
and from the White House. Third, although the individual landscapes 
did not evolve concurrently, their history is closely intertwined. For 
example, Jefferson proposed the construction of terraces to connect 
the President's House with the executive office buildings on either 
side. The construction and completion of the Treasury Building 
required the removal of stables at the White House. The construction 
of the Executive Avenues and the excavation for the massive State, 
War, and Navy Building, which began in 1871, provided needed fill 
for the grounds of the Ellipse. 

President's Park has become the symbol of the nation. Not only is it 
the site of state dinners and other ceremonial affairs but of Easter egg 
rolls and national Christmas trees, a place where world-famous 


465 

Chapter 10. evaluation of Significance 



(Inferior? B: Persons 


musicians are asked to perform for one president and winners of the 
Boston marathon jog with another. For security reasons the grounds 
of the White House are not accessible to the general public, except for 
the semiannual tours of the gardens and grounds and the Easter egg 
roll. Throughout its history levels of security have varied. At times 
access to the grounds has been rather easy; at other times security 
considerations strictly limited who could enter the site. 

The landscape of President's Park has evolved over time, responding 
to its functions as a private home, a ceremonial residence, an 
executive office park, a military headquarters, a tourist site, and a 
point of public assembly and recreation. Sometimes development of 
the site has been formal, relying on dialogue and plans. More often it 
has been informal, in reaction to various pressures over the years. Of 
the various plans prepared for President's Park, only L'Enfant's was 
comprehensive. 4 

As a symbol of the American presidency, which serves a dual 
administrative and ceremonial function, the landscape of President's 
Park is unique in the nation. Within this context, the landscape of 
President's Park has national significance. The period of significance 
is 1791 to the present. 


Criterion B: Persons 

President's Park is significant under criterion B of the National 
Register of Historic Places because it is associated with all presidents 
of the United States, including George Washington, who helped select 
and plan the site but never resided in the White House. The site is 
also associated with first ladies, many of whom played an important 
role in the development of the landscape; with many presidential 
children who either lived at the White House or frequently visited; 
and with the official hostesses of unmarried or widowed presidents. 

The association of this landscape to first families is complex since not 
all of the occupants of the White House were equally involved in 
developing ideas for the grounds. Many of them, however, played 
key roles in designing, suggesting modifications, or adopting a 
course of action that has had a long-term impact on this site. 
Jefferson provides a good example of presidential participation. He 
was instrumental not only in selecting and planning the site, but he 
also cooperated with Benjamin Latrobe in designing the first plan for 


4. Wiiliam Patrick O'Brien (1MRO/NPS) assisted in the formulation of this paragraph 


466 

Part 111: Significance and Integrity 



the grounds of President's House. In this regard he set an important 
precedent that was followed by many of his successors. 

The landscape of the White House has also been modified to adjust to 
the needs of first families. This trend has accelerated during the 20th 
century as there is greater awareness of the need to provide privacy 
and a certain measure of recreational opportunities within the site 
for the occupants of the White House. Providing security for the 
president and the first family and visiting dignitaries has also become 
an increasingly important consideration in managing this landscape. 

President's Park is also associated with many heads of state who 
have visited. In some cases they have left a specific reminder of their 
visits, such as a commemorative tree that they helped plant. For 
most visits a level of flexibility in landscape management has been 
required that is not normally associated with historic properties. The 
White House is a special site that must constantly adjust to the 
changing needs and styles of presidents and their guests. 

President's Park is also significant through its association with other 
important individuals — leading landscape architects and designers, 
gardeners, architects, sculptors, administrators, and engineers who 
have contributed to its development. The most important of those in 
this last group are discussed in greater detail under criterion C. 

Within this context. President's Park has national and possibly inter- 
national significance for the period 1791 to the present. 


Criterion C: Design/Construction 

Several problems in evaluating the significance of the President's Park 
landscape are unique to this site. First, President's Park, in a strict 
design sense, comprises five different landscapes: two parks, the 
grounds of two office buildings, and the grounds of one residence. 
For the purposes of this project these various components are con- 
sidered one landscape, even though at different periods only one or 
two of the individual landscapes may have undergone significant 
changes. As previously indicated, treating this complex as a single 
landscape makes sense for several physical and historical reasons 

Second, because this landscape, particularly the White House 
grounds, has been in a constant state of evolution, it is probable that 
no one period, style, method of construction, or master designer is 
represented here in a very pure state. President's Park should be 
considered a layered landscape in which everything to the present 


Criterion C: Design /Cons t ruction 


467 

Chapter 10. Evaluation of Significance 



Criterion C: Design /Const met ion 


may be significant, even though only remnants of the earliest 
periods may have survived. For the White House grounds it is likely 
that the Olmsted plan of 1935 survives with fairly high integrity, 
except for the east and west gardens, which have been redesigned 
twice since then. 

Under criterion C the landscape of President's Park meets three of the 
four requirements to make a property eligible for the national 
register: 

It embodies the distinctive characteristics of at least three 
types, styles, and periods — late 18th century Baroque 
formalism in city planning, mid-19th century romanticism 
in landscape architecture, and the early 20th century "City 
Beautiful" movement. 

It represents the work of at least three masters associated 
with these periods — Pierre-Charles L'Enfant, Andrew 
Jackson Downing, and Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. 

It possesses high artistic value. 

The fourth requirement {that it represent a significant and distin- 
guishable entity whose components may lack individual distinction) 
does not apply. 

The following discussion focuses on the three most logical contexts 
for President's Park under criterion C. 


Context: Late 18th Century City Planning 

In connection with this context, a number of European cities, most 
of them either capital or princely cities, will be briefly examined. 
Most were planned, either as a whole or in part. They include palaces 
or executive residences with associated landscaped grounds; some- 
times they also have a planned relationship to a legislative or other 
government building. The relationships that exist to this day be- 
tween the White House, its own grounds, the adjacent public 
landscapes, the Capitol, and the Washington street system are a 
legacy of the L'Enfant 1791 plan, which was inspired by a number 
of European models. The context explored here, however, is not 
primarily a L'Enfant context; although attention will be given to 
cities that L'Enfant knew either personally or from plans, other cities 
that have no proven connection to L'Enfant will be examined as well. 


468 

Part 111: Significance and Integrity 



Criterion C: Design/Construction 


It should be noted that planned cities outside the United States 
frequently came into being as a result of authoritarian political 
regimes. 3 Washington, Jefferson, and the founders of this nation, 
working with L'Enfant, were able to translate the aesthetic ideal of a 
city planned for and by an authoritarian regime into one that 
reflected the framework of a new political democratic system. 

When he began planning the city of Washington, L'Enfant asked 
Jefferson for plans of various cities, specifying London, Madrid, 
Paris, Amsterdam, Naples, Venice, Genoa, and Florence. From his 
own collection Jefferson sent L'Enfant plans of Frankfurt am Main, 
Karlsruhe, Amsterdam, Strasbourg, Paris, Orleans, Bordeaux, Lyons, 
Montpelier, Marseilles, Turin, and Milan/ L'Enfant might have been 
personally familiar with the French cities for which Jefferson sent 
plans, as he had been brought up at Versailles and undoubtedly 
knew the city of Nancy, France, as well. 

In some of these cities the parallels with Washington are formal and 
visual; in others, there is more of a functional and ceremonial 
similarity. L'Enfant did not copy directly any of these city plans; like 
any good designer, he came up with his own creative synthesis, suc- 
cessfully adapting it to the U.5. political and physical environment. 

In the case of Paris the planning principle that is most relevant to 
L'Enfant and this discussion is the principle of axial extension. Paris's 
royal monumental axis originates at the former palace of the Louvre, 
with its various additions over time, extends west to the site of the 
former Tuileries Palace, the Tuileries Gardens, the Place de la 
Concorde, the Champs Elysees, and the Rond Point des Champs 
Elysees (figure 10-1). 7 The Parisian principle of a sequence of open 
spaces — forecourts, gardens, and parks — associated with the resi- 
dence of a head of state and extending axially into the city has much 
in common with L'Enfant's plan for President's Park. 

The most famous aspects of Versailles are the palace itself and the 
gardens by Andr£ Le N6tre, but they are all of a piece with the town, 
which was developed concurrently along the sides of the three 


5. Norma Evenson, "Monumental Spaces," in The Moll in Washington, 1791-1991, ed. 
Richard Longstreth (Washington, DC: National Gallery of Art, 1991), 19-34. 

6. Frederick Dovcton Nichols and Ralph E. .Griswold, Thomas Jefferson, Landscape 
Architect (Charlottesville, VA: University Press of Virginia, 1978), 46-56. 

7. Edmund M. Bacon, Design of Cities (Harmondsworth, England: Penguin Books, Ltd., 
1978), 186-95; Wolfgang Braunfels, Urban Design in Western Europe : Regime and 
Architecture, 900-1900 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1988), 307-27; Architectures 
Capitales: Paris, 1979-1989 (Paris: Electa Monileur, 1989), 16-27. 


469 


Chapter 10. Evaluation of Significance 



Criterion C; Design/Construction radiating approach roads. At regular intervals were uniform squares, 

built according to precisely formulated regulations. Despite the 
authoritarianism of the Bourbon kings, particularly Louis XIV, the 
palace and gardens of Versailles were relatively easy to access by the 
public. Proper dress was the only requirement to visit the park, and 
anyone who had been presented to the king could enter the palace. 8 

The President's Park section of the L'Enfant plan has much in com- 
mon with the part of the town of Versailles in the vicinity of the 
palace, especially the three radiating avenues that converge on the 
Place d'Armes, the Cour d'Honneur, and the palace. In L'Enfant's 
plan, Lafayette Park (then President's Square) served the same func- 
tion as the Place d'Armes. 

At Nancy the principle of a series of connected open spaces related to 
the residence of a head of state is similar to President's Park. The 
greatest achievement of designer Emmanuel Her£ was a series of 
three connected courts and spaces, still an ideal embodiment of late 
1 8th century town planning (see figure 10-2 ). 9 

There is no evidence that L’Enfant ever visited London, yet he might 
have been familiar with Christopher Wren's scheme for rebuilding 
the city after the fire of 1666 (figure 10-3), a plan that has some 
similarities to L'Enfant's plan for Washington. At Greenwich, 
however. Wren realized an impressive plan to frame Inigo Jones's 
Queen's House with the buildings of his own Royal Naval Hospital. 
The design exhibits a formal but not a real functional parallel with 
President's Park. The relationship between the buildings of the Royal 
Naval Hospital and the Queen's House is similar to that between the 
Treasury and Executive Office Buildings and the White House. There 
is, however, a greater disparity of scale (figure 10-4). 10 

In the city of Westminster, where the royal palaces, Westminster 
Abbey, the Houses of Parliament, and other government buildings 
are located, the main ceremonial route is the Mall, which progresses 
from Buckingham Palace past St. James Palace, the Admiralty and 
the Horse Guards to Trafalgar Square and then turns sharply south 
toward the Houses of Parliament (figure 10-5). The development of 


8. Braunfels. Urban Design in Western Europe, 253-60. 

9. Braunfels, Urban Design in Western Europe, 226-30; Siegfried Giedion, Space, Time and 
Architecture (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1970}, 143-47; Bacon, Design of 
Cities, 177-79. 

10. John W. Reps, The Making of Urban America: A History of City Planning in the United 
States (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1965), 15-19; Bacon, Design of Cities, 1 72- 
73. 


470 


PART III: SIGNIFICANCE AND INTEGRITY 



the gardens of Buckingham Palace and of the surrounding public 
spaces has many similarities to that of President's Park." 

St. Petersburg's urban character resembles Washington more closely 
than any European city, except for Paris and Versailles. The city plan 
as a whole has a strong resemblance to Versailles, although the river, 
canals, and islands are also reminiscent of Venice (figure 10-6). 12 The 
city plan of St. Petersburg was reinforced by a remarkable archi- 
tectural consistency. This resisted from the strict design controls 
imposed by the St. Petersburg architectural commission, which 
functioned from 1760 to 1796. During this period German, French, 
and Italian architects were frequently commissioned for important 
buildings, as well as architects from Moscow.'- 1 The parallels between 
the plan for St. Petersburg and that for Washington are very 
marked, especially in the areas near the Russian palaces and the three 
radiating avenues (prospekts). 

Before 1791 Williamsburg was the American city most closely 
modeled after Versailles. It was laid out in 1699, probably by 
Governor Francis Nicholson using the plan of the Le Notre gardens at 
Versailles as the model. In Williamsburg the Duke of Gloucester 
Street, which extends a mile from the College of William and Mary 
to the Capitol, is the main axis (figure 10-7). At Versailles the main 
axis extends from the palace down the grand canal and then 
disappears into infinity with no visible terminus. At Williamsburg 
the cross axis has one arm only, which terminates at the Governor's 
Palace. At Versailles, the cross axis is the Petit Canal, one arm of 
which terminates at the Grand Trianon and the other, which once led 
to a zoo, now has no monumental terminus. 14 The relationships at 
Williamsburg between the Capitol and the Governor's Palace, with 
its gardens and Palace Green, are similar to those between the Capitol 
and the White House and its associated open spaces. 

The landscape of President's Park has its origins in the 1 791 L'Enfant 
city plan for Washington. Influences and parallels with the L'Enfant 
plan can be traced in many European cities, but the principal model 
seems to have been the plan for Versailles. A secondary model 


11. Braunfels, Urban Design in Western Europe, 327-39. Bacon, Design of Cities, 200-13. 
Roy Strong, Royal Gardens (New York: Pocket Books, 1991); Susan Lasdon, The English Park: 
Royal, Private and Public (London: Andre Deutsch), 1 991 . 

12. Braunfels, Urban Design in Weslem Europe, 267-71; Bacon, Design of Cities, 196-99; 
luri Alekseevich Egorov, The Architectural Planning of St. Petersburg: Its Development in the 
18th and 19th Centuries, trails. Eric Dluhosch (Athens, OH: Ohio University Press, 1969). 

13. Braunfels, Urban Design in Western Europe, 272-75. 

14. Reps, The Making of Urban America, 1 08-14. 


Criterion C: Dcsign/Construction 


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Criterion C: Design/Construction 


probably was the royal axis in Paris. Similar plans in other European 
cities, especially St. Petersburg, the unexecuted Wren plan for the 
rebuilding of London, and Wren's plan for Greenwich, were 
themselves derived from Versailles, but may have been direct 
influences on L'Enfant as well. 

The specific criterion that applies to the context of international city 
planning of the late 18th century is criterion C, design/construction. 
The President's Park landscape, as an integral component of the 
L'Enfant plan of the city of Washington, "embodies the definitive 
characteristics of a type, period, or method of construction" — that 
is, late 18th century city planning, a movement that was French 
Baroque in origin and international in influence. 

Within this context, the landscape of President's Park has national 
and probably international significance. The period of significance . for 
this context would be 1791 to ca. 1820, the end date corresponding 
to the rebuilding of the White House and flanking office buildings 
after the War of 1812. 


Context: Andrew Jackson Downing 

Andrew Jackson Downing (1815-52) was a pivotal figure in the 
history of American landscape architecture. However, all his early 
landscape designs were residential. Downing's plan for the public 
grounds of Washington was his first and only plan for a public park 
or system of parks and also the first such plan in the United States. 
It preceded the Frederick Law Olmsted Sr. and Calvert Vaux plan for 
Central Park in New York City by six years. Furthermore, no other 
landscape design by Downing survives, even in a fragmentary 
condition. 15 

Downing's 1851 plan for the public grounds of Washington, includ- 
ing the President's Park component (the Ellipse or "Parade" and the 
grounds of the President's House), is also a prototypical example of 
mid 1 9th century romanticism in American landscape design, as is 
his plan for Lafayette Square. Downing was the chief proponent of 
this style, which emphasized curvilinear path and road systems, the 
use of a wide variety of plant materials, and the picturesque and 
irregular massing of trees and shrubs. This style influenced Frederick 
Law Olmsted Sr. and many others. The connection between 
Downing and Olmsted is especially significant, since Calvert Vaux, 


15. Tatum, "The Downing Decade," in Prophet with Honor , cd. Tatum and MacDougail, 1- 
42; Tatum, "Nature's Gardener," in Prophet with Honor, ed. Tatum and MacDougail, 43-80. 


472 

Part 111: Significance and Integrity 


who was Downing's partner from 1850 until the latter's death in 
1852, became Olmsted's partner in 1857. The two together won the 
competition for the "New-York Park," or Central Park, and stayed in 
partnership until 1872. Downing's death at the age of 37 cut short a 
career that was just beginning to turn in a new direction and also 
prevented his Washington plan from coming to full realization. 

Downing's landscape design for President's Park was also an impor- 
tant early example of the American park movement. Downing's 
writings, which were published just before undertaking the Wash- 
ington project, show an exceptional awareness of the need for parks 
in American cities, particularly in the older cities on the east coast, 
which, due to immigration and industrialization, were rapidly 
becoming severely congested and afflicted by epidemics of cholera 
and other diseases. A key document is an article on "The New-York 
Park," which he wrote in August 1851, while working on the 
Washington public grounds. Rather than stressing aesthetics, 
Downing made a case for a large park in New York City on social, 
sanitary, and humanitarian grounds, just as Olmsted was to do for 
New York, Brooklyn, Boston, and many other cities in the following 
decades. Downing's statements were almost identical to those made 
by Olmsted in his 1870 address "Public Parks and the Enlargement of 
Towns" and many other writings. 16 

Washington did not yet suffer from immigration and crowding, but 
it is clear that Downing felt that his plan for "The Public Grounds of 
Washington" should serve as a national model that would encourage 
cities across the country to establish similar parks. It would be a 
"Public School of Instruction in every thing that relates to the 
tasteful arrangement of parks and grounds . "' 7 

The portions of Downing's plan for Washington that are still extant, 
in any form, are all within President's Park and represent both his 
only remaining public work and his only remaining project of any 
kind. While Lafayette Square does not reflect Downing's 1851 pre- 
sentation plan, the square has been documented as his design, and 
there seems little doubt that it stayed close to its original plan (with 
the exception of the four corner sculptures) until the late 1930s. 


16. A. J. Downing, "The New-York Park," August 1851, reprinted in Andrew Jackson 
Downing, Rural Essays, ed. George William Curtis (New York: Da Capo Press, 1974, reprint 
of 1853 edition), 147. Frederick Law Olmsted Sr., "Public Parks and the Enlargement of 
Towns," 1870, in Civilizing American Cities: A Selection of Frederick Law Olmsted's Writings on 
City Landscapes, ed. S. B. Sutton (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 1971), 43-99. 

1 7. A. J. Downing, "Explanatory Notes to Accompany the Plan for Improving the Public 
Grounds at Washington," NA. 


Criterion C: Design /Construct ion 


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Chapter 10. Evaluation of Significance 



Criterion C: Design/Construction 


Documentation also clearly indicates that a revised version of 
Downing's plan for the Ellipse (Parade) was executed, partly under 
his supervision, in the early 1850s but was severely damaged during 
the Civil War years. Under the presidency of Rutherford Hayes, 
Downing's plan for the Ellipse was loosely implemented with some 
modifications from the presentation plan. It was finally completed 
by the early 1880s. There is insufficient documentation to determine 
how much design work according to Downing's original or a later 
revised plan was accomplished at the White House. 

The landscapes of Lafayette Park and the Ellipse "embody the defini- 
tive characteristics of a type, period, or method of construction" that 
is mid 19th century romanticism in American landscape design. It 
also represents the work of a master. Within this context, the land- 
scapes of Lafayette Park and the Ellipse have national significance. 

The period of significance for this context would be 1850 to ca. 
1885, the end date representing the reinstatement of a modified 
version of the Downing plan for the Ellipse during the Cleveland 
administration. 


Context: Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. 

Olmsted Brothers was the preeminent American landscape architec- 
tural firm of its period. Active between 1898 and 1957, the firm 
produced thousands of designs for projects of all types all over the 
United States and in Canada. After the retirement of his father in 
1895 and the death of his brother, John Charles Olmsted, in 1920, 
Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. became the principal of the firm, with an 
outstanding reputation in civic design service as well as in his private 
practice. Frederick Law Olmsted Jr.'s association with President's 
Park began in 1901 when he was appointed a member of Senator 
McMillan's Senate Park Commission. In 1902 he also advised Charles 
F. McKim informally on gardens and drives, when the latter was 
working on the renovation of the White House. By the time of his 
1934-35 plan for the White House grounds, prepared for President 
Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Olmsted had also served as a member of 
the Fine Arts Commission and on other national commissions and 
advisory committees, including one for the National Park Service. 

Olmsted's "Report to the President of the United States on 
Improvements and Policy of Maintenance for the Executive Mansion 
Grounds," did not propose radical revisions to the existing landscape. 
Clearly, the aim was not to produce a grand "country place" design 
of the type that the firm was noted for and had executed on the 
north shore of Long Island, New York, and elsewhere. The White 


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PART 111: SIGNIFICANCE AND INTEGRITY 



Criterion C: Design/ Cons t nict ion 


House plan should not be compared with projects of this type. The 
Olmsted report also included a very important historical component, 
specifically requested by President Roosevelt and prepared by 
Professor Morley Williams of Harvard University. The only critical 
design change that was carried out as a result of the Olmsted plan 
was the removal of the inner "fiddle-shaped" drives on the south 
lawn, which had been there since the Jackson administration. 
Another suggestion was the redesign of the east and west gardens, 
but this would not be accomplished for close to three decades. Most 
of the other recommendations pertained to relocating plantings, not 
only to secure more privacy for the first family, but also to open up 
the south vista toward the house. 

The landscape of the White House owes much of its present 
character to the Olmsted plan of 1935, which was more of a 
landscape management plan than a redesign. As the section on site 
history has documented, the recommendations of this plan were to 
preserve as much of the existing landscape as possible, while 
removing what were then considered to be outdated or impractical 
features (the "fiddle-shaped drives"). The report is an early and model 
example of a plan that reconciles the preservation of existing historic 
landscape features with the adaptation of the landscape to modern 
conditions. The basic directives of the 1935 Olmsted plan are still 
official policy at the White House today. The report itself is consulted 
frequently and still guides many of the landscape management 
decisions at the site. It is very rare, and perhaps even unprecedented, 
for a landscape or planning report to remain relevant, valuable, and 
in active service after 60 years. 

According to criterion C of the National Register of Historic Places, 
the landscape of the White House "embodies the definitive charac- 
teristics of a type, period, or method of construction" — that is, 
early 20th century management of historic landscapes and sensitive 
redesign of such sites. It also embodies the work of a master, 
Frederick Law Olmsted Jr., the eminent landscape architect who was 
then the senior partner of the firm that his father had started and 
which was noted for residential design as well as for park planning, 
conservation, and campus design. Within this context, the White 
House landscape has national significance. 

This period of significance would be 1934-52, the end date corre- 
sponding to the realization of some of the recommendations of the 
Olmsted plan after the White House remodeling in 1949-52. 
However, since the Olmsted report is still in use today, a case might 
be made for extending this date to the present and into the future. 


475 

Chapter 10. Evaluation of Significance 



Summary 


Although other landscape architects/"masters" contributed to the 
design of the White House and President's Park, such as Beatrix 
Farrand, John Carl Warnecke, and Edward Durell Stone Jr., their 
efforts involved only discrete portions of the grounds rather than an 
overall plan for the site. 


Summary 

Five contexts have been examined in the course of this chapter: 

1. The Presidency and the Administration of the Executive Branch of 
Government. The landscape of President's Park is significant 
within this context, which encompasses the entire administra- 
tive and ceremonial history of the site from its earliest period. 
The level of significance is national and possibly international, 
and the period of significance is 1791 to the present. The ap- 
plicable national register criterion is A, event. 

2. First Families. The landscape of President's Park is significant 
within this context for its association with all of our presidents 
and first ladies. In some cases, the association extends to other 
members of their families, as well as to foreign heads of state 
and other dignitaries. The level of significance is national and 
possibly international, and the period of significance is 1791 to 
the present. The applicable national register criterion is B, 
persons. 

3. Late 18th Century City Planning. The President's Park landscape 
is significant in that it is based on developments in European late 
Baroque city planning, especially exemplified by the royal axis 
of Paris, the town plan of Versailles, Christopher Wren’s plans 
for Greenwich and the rebuilding of London, and the plan of St. 
Petersburg, Russia. The first three of these plans and the first 
phases of the planning of St. Petersburg were completed well 
before the late 18th century, but they were established proto- 
types. Drawing in some cases from his personal experience of 
these cities and in some cases from maps provided by Thomas 
Jefferson, L'Enfant derived his own plan. The level of signifi- 
cance is national and possibly international, and the period of 
significance is 1791 to ca. 1820. This date was chosen as the end 
date because it signals the rebuilding of the White House and 
flanking office buildings after they were burned by the British in 
1814. The applicable national register criterion is C, design/ 
construction. 


476 

Part III: Significance and Integrity 



Summary 


4. Andrew Jackson Downing. The landscape of President's Park 
appears to be significant within this context, which encompasses 
the involvement of the nation's most important mid 19th 
century landscape designer, whose plan for the public grounds 
of Washington was conceived and partially executed in the last 
two years of his life. The level of significance is national, and the 
period of significance is 1850 to ca. 1885, the end date repre- 
senting the reinstatement of a modified version of the Downing 
plan for the Ellipse during the Cleveland administration. The 
applicable national register criterion is C, design/construction. 

5. Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. The landscape of President's Park 
appears to be significant within this context, which represents 
the conception and production of the Olmsted "Report and Plan 
for Improvements and Policy of Maintenance for the Executive 
Mansion Grounds." This context applies only to the grounds of 
the White House and not to the rest of President's Park. The level 
of significance is national, and the period of significance is 1934 
to 1952, the end date corresponding to the implementation of 
some Olmsted recommendations. However, the Olmsted report 
is still in use today, and the end date should be the present. The 
applicable national register criterion is C, design/ construction. 


477 

Chapter 10. Evaluation of Significance 







K 



^1 • v 


>Pi 


y ruU 



LU 

















Figure 10-4: Prospect of the Royal Hospital at Greenwich to the River Thames. Christopher Wren, 1699. From Colin Campbell. 
Vitruvius Britannicus, vol. 3 (London, 1725). Library of Congress, Rare Books. 



482 

Part III: Significance and Integrity 

















Figure 10-7: 1’lan de la ville et maisons de Williamsburg, Virginia (rian of the toivn and houses of Williamsburg, Viriginia) 
1 786. Swcm Library, College of William and Mary. 


485 

Chapter 10. Evalmrtion of Significance 






Chapter 11. Evaluation of Integrity 


T he landscape of the White House and President's Park has 
been the focus of activities associated with the U.S. presi- 
dency and the administration of the executive branch of 
government since the beginning of the nation in the 18th 
century. It is a dynamic, layered landscape that reflects its develop- 
ment and use for over two centuries. It represents many historic per- 
iods and is related to several historic contexts. Change occurs regu- 
larly, as dictated by operational, security, and privacy requirements. 


For the purpose of this document President's Park has been defined as 
a designed historic landscape.’ The President's Park landscape includes 
the White House, Lafayette Park, the Treasury Building, the Old 
Executive Office Building, and the Ellipse. 1 The National Park 
Service's Cultural Resource Management Guideline describes a designed 
historic landscape as: 

• significant as a design or work of art; 


• consciously designed and laid out by a master gardener, land- 
scape architect, architect or horticulturist according to a de- 
sign principle, or an owner or amateur using a recognized 
style or tradition; 


1. The NPS Cultural Resource Management Guideline defines the other landscape 
classifications as follows: 

• Historic vernacular landscape — a landscape whose use, construction, or physical 
layout reflects endemic traditions, customs, beliefs, or values; in which the 
expression of cultural values, social behavior, and individual actions over time is 
manifested in physical features and materials and their interrelationships, including 
patterns of spatial organization, land use, circulation, vegetation, structures, and 
objects; and in which the physical, biological, and cultural features reflect the 
customs and everyday lives of people. 

• A historic site is a landscape significant for its association with a historic event, 
activity, or person. 

• An ethnographic landscape is a landscape containing a variety of natural and 
cultural resources that associated people define as heritage resources. Small plant 
communities, animal habitat, and subsistence and ceremonial grounds are included. 


2. The White House and the Ellipse, in turn, can be subdivided into component 
landscapes. For example, the north lawn is a component landscape of the White House. 
Others include the Rose Garden and the upper and lower south lawns. President's Park 
South can also be divided into component landscapes, such as the Ellipse, the Sherman 
Plaza, and the First Division Monument. 


487 

Chapter 11. Evaluation of Integrity 



488 

Part III: Significance and Integrity 



• associated with a significant person, trend, or event in 
landscape gardening; or 

• having a significant relationship to the theory or practice of 
landscape architecture. 

The President's Park landscape has evolved as a result of multiple 
uses and historical factors. It possesses distinct physical landscape 
characteristics, types and concentrations of historic features, as well 
as specific uses that have influenced its evolution. Some changes or 
layers may be more important than others because of their associa- 
tion with particular events or persons or their design character. 

For integrity to be present, a cultural landscape must continue to 
represent "the authenticity" of its "historic identity, [as] evidenced by 
the survival of physical characteristics that existed during the 
property's historic period ." 3 The clearest evaluation of integrity is 
based on the presence of identifiable components of the original 
design. To evaluate the historical integrity of a designed landscape, it 
is essential to compare its appearance and function to its historical 
appearance and function. The relationship between present function 
and that intended or actually in use during the period of significance 
may also affect the integrity of a designed historic landscape . 1 

President's Park has evolved to such an extent that no single period, 
style, method of construction, or designer is represented in a pure 
state. As a result, the evaluation of integrity is based on the under- 
standing that some degree of change is inherent and that change has 
ensured the continued use of the site for its original and intended use 
as the official and private residence of the head of the executive 
branch. Indeed, it is President Park's associative importance that 
makes changes within the period of significance acceptable. For 
President's Park, restoration to a specific period design or plan, for 
example, would be likely to strip away features that relate to other 
historical contexts and periods. 

The condition of a landscape affects integrity evaluations to some 
extent. Condition and integrity are interrelated, but distinct, aspects 
of the existing state of a cultural landscape. Condition, however, is 
not the primary determinant of whether or not a feature retains 
integrity. While a deteriorated or diseased feature may contribute to 



3. NFS, How to Complete the National Register Registration Form, National Register 
Bulletin 16A (Washington, DC, Interagency Division, 1991), 4 


4. NPS, Hon' to Evaluate and Nominate Designed Historic Landscapes, by Timothy Keller 
and Genevieve P. Keller, National Register Bulletin 18 (Washington, DC: n.d.), 6-7. 




landscape integrity, a feature in excellent condition may not neces- 
sarily contribute to integrity. The evaluation of integrity took into 
account condition assessments of individual features in President's 
Park; these assessments were based on field investigations conducted 
in 1993 and 1994. While poor maintenance may negatively affect 
integrity in many landscapes, the reverse is sometimes true for 
President's Park, where an exceptional degree of maintenance in some 
areas has resulted in the removal, replacement, or alteration of his- 
toric fabric and features that would have contributed to integrity. 
For example, damaged, diseased, or unattractive vegetation is often 
removed for aesthetic reasons. 

The criteria for assessing integrity, as established for the National 
Register of Historic Places, have been considered for this landscape 
and include location, design, setting, materials, workmanship, feel- 
ing, and association. Location is the place where the significant 
features that characterized a property occurred. Design refers to the 
composition of natural and cultural elements, comprising the form, 
plan, and spatial organization of a property; setting refers to the 
physical environment within and surrounding a property. Materials 
are the actual fabric of buildings, outbuildings, roadways, fences, 
and other landscape features. Workmanship is the quality exhibited in 
the ways people have fashioned their environment for functional and 
decorative purposes. Feeling , although intangible, is the perception 
evoked by the presence of physical characteristics that reflect the 
historical scene. Association is the direct link between a property and 
the important events or persons that shaped it. 5 

Integrity evaluations address the following inquiries concerning 
President's Park: 

• To what degree is the historic character associated with a 
specific historic context present? 

• Does the present landscape possess the ability to reflect sig- 
nificant aspects of the designs and plans associated with 
L'Enfant, Downing, and Olmsted? 

• Does the landscape retain original historic fabric? 

• How do the site's current landscape characteristics contribute 
to or detract from integrity? To what extent are they the 
same or different from the characteristics known to have 
existed during the period of significance? 




5. NPS, Guidelines for Evaluating and Documenting Rural Historic Landscapes, by Linda 
Flint McClelland, J. Timothy Keller, Genevieve P. Keller, and Robert Z. Melnick, National 
Register Bulletin 30 (Washington, DC: n.d_), 22-23. 


489 

Chapter 11. Evaluation of-lntegrity 



Evaluation of Integrity 


Evaluation of Integrity 

Context: The Presidency and First Families, and the 
Administration of the Executive Branch of the United States 

Government 

The landscape of President’s Park retains authentic features from 
many historic periods. These features reflect the character of this 
landscape as it has evolved over two centuries. Changes in this 
landscape are significant because of their association with significant 
persons or events or with significant designers or design trends. In 
these instances the alterations or additions have achieved significance 
in their own right over time. In this layered landscape, even the work 
of L'Enfant, Downing, Olmsted, and others can be seen as part of a 
continuum. Throughout the history of the site, presidents have 
participated and contributed to the planning, design, and/or imple- 
mentation process. The L'Enfant, Downing, and Olmsted work, for 
example, is associated not only with those designers but also with 
Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Millard Fillmore, 
and Franklin Delano Roosevelt. 

Substantial changes have not prevented a definite pattern of land- 
scape continuity. The architectural integrity associated with the 
major buildings and structures within President's Park is significant 
in these contexts. The White House (first built in 1792; major re- 
buildings following the War of 1812 and during the Truman admin- 
istration), the Treasury Building (the first Treasury was established 
1798; the new Treasury in 1836 and modified subsequently), and 
the Old Executive Office Building (1871-88) establish the site's 
physical identity and provide continuity from one period to the next. 
These building sites have remained constant, although the buildings 
have increased in size and undergone periodic rehabilitation to meet 
changing executive needs. Still they retain a considerable degree of 
integrity of materials and workmanship. Although certain details, 
for example paving materials in Lafayette Park, have changed over 
time, the continuous use of President's Park as a public common and 
park enhances the overall landscape integrity. The continuity of 
commemorative vegetation also enhances landscape integrity. Even if 
an original tree has been lost, like the John Quincy Adams elm or the 
magnolia originally planted in 1922 for President Warren G. 
Harding, replacement trees meet the criteria for integrity with regard 
to location, feeling, and association. 

Change in the landscape of President's Park has often been incre- 
mental. A number of features have been built, installed, or planted 
without changing the underlying landscape that has survived from 


490 

PART Hi: SIGNIFICANCE AND INTEGRITY 



Evaluation of Integrity 


earlier periods. This additive process is especially relevant in 
evaluating the effects of the post World War II changes to the White 
House grounds, which include a number of features related to 
privacy, security, and recreation. The addition of the swimming pool 
in the Ford administration, the President's Patio in the Reagan 
administration, and the jogging track in the Clinton administration 
are part of this additive process. Their addition does not diminish the 
integrity of the landscape. These changes reveal information about 
the individual presidents, their families, their preferences, pastimes, 
and occupations, and even the times of their administrations. 

This context acknowledges a landscape with substantial integrity of 
location, feeling, association, and setting related to the resources 
listed for criterion A. The landscape reflects a mix of private, public, 
recreational, and working uses in conjunction with its development 
as the center of the executive branch of government. President's Park 
represents the broad spectrum of uses associated with the executive 
government and the domestic lives of presidential families. The site 
has been gradually developed to accommodate both private and 
public uses. Initially developed as the executive residence and office 
surrounded by largely undefined open space, President's Park over 
time has been defined as the site of national memorials and 
monuments; as a symbolic, national open space associated with the 
American rights of free speech, assembly, and protests; and as a 
major visitor attraction in the nation's capital. 

The development of Lafayette Park and the Ellipse prior to the Civil 
War not only represents a romantic 19th century design brat also 
national trends in design associated with improving urban 
environments and creating picturesque and healthful public parks. 
The subsequent addition of military monuments and memorials 
relates to larger national contexts associated with the public 
commemoration of military heroes. Their addition does not diminish 
the integrity of earlier significant designs. The rehabilitation of 
Lafayette Park during the WPA era and in the late 1960s is also 
indicative of national trends in urban design. The direct involvement 
of the Kennedy and Johnson administrations underscores the 
strength and continuity of association with the executive residence 
and grounds. These and other additions reflect later generations' 
attitudes toward the use and treatment of public open space and 
actually enhance integrity because they contribute to the distinct 
identity of President's Park as belonging not just to the president but 
to all American people. Indeed, the integrity of these designs adds to 
the overall integrity of President's Park under criteria A and B. 

President's Park is a composite of modifications, improvements, and 
changes. The continuum of use and association unifies the disparate 


491 

Chapter 11. Evaluation of Integrity 



Evaluation of Integrity 


elements and characteristics from various historic periods and gives 
the property its distinctive identity. While all changes that have 
occurred between 1791 and 1994 reflect the evolution of the site and 
represent the historical setting and scene at various periods in 
history, they may not be all equal in significance, either for 
association or for design. For example, alterations to public spaces, 
such as the creation of monuments and memorials, may have 
greater importance and permanence than the individual recreational 
facilities on the White House grounds that are associated with 
various first families. 

The direct associations with presidential families and households and 
with the events and trends that affected their daily lives make 
President's Park a unique landscape. As the only landscape associated 
with the domestic life of each presidential household since the 
administration of John Adams, President's Park reflects both the 
continuity and the evolution of the presidents' living and working 
environment. The White House, which is the focus of President's 
Park, is both residence and office to the nation's chief executive. 

First families over time have had different requirements, concerns, 
and aesthetic values. These are often reflected through additions or 
alterations to the White House landscape. The White House garden 
designs of Rachel Lambert Mellon are significant and retain integrity 
for their association with the Kennedys and the Johnsons, who were 
committed to enhancing the White House and its grounds. Subse- 
quent changes to the gardens have resulted in only minor modi- 
fications to the Mellon design, and the gardens can be said to retain 
integrity for the first families context. The Children's Garden, 
designed by Edward Durell Stone Jr. for the Johnson grandchildren, 
has also retained its integrity. Rotating installations of regional 
sculpture exhibits in the east garden initiated by Hillary Rodham 
Clinton are designed to be temporary and do not affect the integrity 
assessment for the garden design. As is so often the case for 
President's Park, the installations provide linkages and continuity 
from one administration to another. Changes instituted by or for one 
family are adapted and modified to meet the needs or interests of a 
subsequent presidential family. 

The landscape of President's Park has retained certain qualities and 
features that have persisted through different periods and that have 
allowed the site to accommodate periodic changes. Indeed, it is the 
sum total of changes that have occurred to this site since 1791 that 
enhances the site's integrity of feeling and association. 

Just as the White House landscape has changed to meet the changing 
needs of various administrations, Lafayette Park and the Ellipse have 


492 

Part 111: Significance and Integrity 



Evaluation of Integrity 


experienced landscape changes related to changing trends and tastes 
in landscape design and to the changing character of the surrounding 
neighborhood. Memorialization efforts, in particular, relate to cri- 
terion A for both Lafayette Park and the Ellipse. Between 1891 and 
1911 the military monuments commemorating the contributions of 
Lafayette, Rochambeau, Kosciuszko, and von Steuben to the 
American Revolution were installed at the four corners of Lafayette 
Square. The installations, although not identified as part of any 
specific plan developed for the park, have achieved significance over 
time as public memorials related to the late 19th century memorial 
movement, and they do not diminish the integrity of the park. 
Similarly the many memorials in President's Park South, ranging 
from the Sherman statue to the Haupt fountains, enhance rather 
than detract from integrity. 


Context: Late 18th Century City Planning 

The primary historic period for the late 18th century city planning 
context is 1791-1814, which is associated with the L'Enfant plan 
and which applies to the park in its entirety. The essential character 
of L'Enfant's French Baroque 18th century city plan survives. It is 
not only visually apparent but has been acknowledged for many 
decades as pivotal to urban planning and decision making in 
managing this site and other areas of the capital city. As early as 
1868 Nathaniel Michler urged a return to the principles of the 
L’Enfant plan, which had been ignored for several years. 

The area set aside by L'Enfant for the President's House and grounds 
is immediately identifiable today both onsite and in contemporary 
maps. The alignment of New York and Pennsylvania Avenues and of 
15th, 16th, and 17th Streets has remained constant since the initial 
implementation of the L'Enfant plan. Indeed, these avenues and 
streets still bear the original names indicated on the 18th century 
plan. The sight line down Pennsylvania Avenue to the Capitol, which 
was established in the L'Enfant plan, has endured except for the 
placement of the Treasury Building and is respected as a planning 
and design element for this area. 

L'Enfant specified the location for the President's House and grounds. 
Although constructed substantially smaller than proposed, the 
executive residence has occupied this site since its initial development. 
The plan also included parklike uses for the southern segment of the 
site, the current lower south lawn and the Ellipse, both of which 
have been parklike open spaces throughout the history of the site. 
The L'Enfant plan depicts a roughly elliptical terrace in the center of a 
landscaped open space and includes a series of landscaped terraces 


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Chapter 1 1. Evaluation of Integrity 



Erafuatio/r of Integrity 


stepping down to the elliptical terrace. Although there are no actual 
terraces today, this arrangement is consistent with the present 
south-sloping topography of President's Park south of the White 
House. The landscaped open space south of the President's House and 
its connection to the landscaped open space extending west from the 
Capitol was indicated in the L’Enfant plan. However, this relationship 
has been altered somewhat by the creation of Constitution Avenue in 
the general vicinity of the historic Tiber Creek and Washington 
Canal. 

The addition of buildings on both sides of the White House is 
consistent with the L'Enfant plan, even though the extant features 
postdate the period of significance identified for the late 18th century 
context. On the L'Enfant plan the President's House and the adjacent 
buildings are depicted in a formal and symmetrical arrangement that 
differs from the actual locations of the Treasury and the Old 
Executive Office Building. Although in a slightly different location, 
the arrangement corresponds to the present-day buildings' overall 
design symmetry. 

Lafayette Park, indicated on the L'Enfant plan as open space, has 
remained open throughout its history despite development designs. 
The existing views from Lafayette Park up Connecticut Avenue to 
Farragut Square, up 16th Street to Scott Circle, and up Vermont 
Avenue to McPherson Square generally correspond to the views that 
L'Enfant proposed. 

The private nonfederal development of the adjacent blocks closely 
parallels the historic mixed uses of Lafayette Square. Its architectural 
character is unlike that which existed historically, but the same is 
not true of the individual lot pattern for the blocks fronting on 1 5th 
and 1 7th Streets. This type of nonfederal development has remained 
constant for areas north of Pennsylvania Avenue on the east side of 
President's Park and north of New York Avenue on the west side. In 
addition, the use and development of 1 7th Street south of New York 
Avenue is consistent with the land use patterns indicated on the 
L'Enfant plan. However, the construction of the Department of 
Commerce Building on 15th Street between Pennsylvania and 
Constitution Avenues is a departure from the small lot development 
indicated on the 18th century plan. 

The treatment of the New York and Pennsylvania Avenues inter- 
sections also departs from the L'Enfant plan. The L'Enfant plan 
indicates the siting of the President's House at this intersection in an 
open plaza; in the present configuration the White House and 
flanking executive office buddings are set in a limited access area. The 
L'Enfant plan, however, did indicate buildings, although they were to 


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Evaluation of Integrity 


have been located farther south and more distant from the executive 
residence than the present buildings. The public common that 
developed as Lafayette Park is a landscaped park rather than a plaza 
as indicated on the L'Enfant plan as part of the open space network 
of the street. The later 19th century landscaped park that developed 
on this site as a result of Downing's plan was more defined than any 
delineation apparent on the L'Enfant plan. 

On the L'Enfant plan a series of repetitive, small-scale dements 
indicates a somewhat restricted area north of the President's House, 
suggestive of the need for an enclosure or barrier to differentiate 
between the street and the residential grounds. The current place- 
ment of nonhistoric boundary and security demarcations, which 
include both perimeter fencing and bollards on the sidewalk, 
approximate these locations. 

The L'Enfant plan effectively established the predominant land 
development pattern of the area. The northern portion of the site was 
enclosed by the city plan, while the southern portion overlooked an 
undefined meadow or lawn that has been developed into a parklike 
open space of the south lawn and the Ellipse. This distinction is still 
evident today. The north lawn and Lafayette Park are more 
intensively developed than the south lawn and the Ellipse, which 
remain open. It is likely that this arrangement of uses was in 
response to the natural characteristics of the site, with the higher 
land elevations in the north and the marshy areas associated with 
Tiber Creek in the south. 

President's Park possesses integrity when evaluated in the context of 
late 18th century city planning. The fact that the essential character- 
istics of L'Enfant's French Baroque plan have survived reflects its 
widespread acceptance as the original and enduring design concept, 
and it is this concept that has been used to inform and direct 
planning and design decisions affecting spatial organization, circu- 
lation, land use, and vistas associated with President's Park. Andrew 
Jackson Downing and Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. worked within the 
overall plan established by L'Enfant. Both accepted and were influ- 
enced by this plan, and both contributed substantially to the interior 
definition of the park that L'Enfant did not develop. The Downing 
plan for Lafayette Park acknowledged the view corridors that 
L'Enfant suggested, and it established park entrances at the 
northwest and northeast corners and at the center of the north side. 
The Olmsted plan's strong north-south axial relationship with the 
White House grounds to the south is also consistent with the 
L'Enfant plan. Contemporary designers and planners have continued 
to acknowledge L'Enfant's original design intent. 


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Chapter It. Evaluation of Integrity 



Evaluation of Integrity 


The primary spatial organization characteristics of the L'Enfant plan 
have endured for two centuries and are evident in the existing 
landscape. The plan as implemented in the period of significance 
included radiating avenues, a hierarchy of streets, focal point 
buildings, and irregularly shaped blocks, and was developed in 
response to the area's topography and hydrology. These features are 
still present today. The geometric layout of the 18th century plan is 
still visible in the arrangement and configuration of streets, avenues, 
and open spaces. 


Context: Andrew Jackson Downing 

The historic period for the Downing design extends from 1850 to 
1885. It applies primarily to Lafayette Park and to a lesser degree to 
the Ellipse. Both are significant as early examples of the American 
park movement and for their association with notable landscape 
designer Andrew Jackson Downing. Their enduring use as public 
open spaces has remained constant since the Downing era. 


Lafayette Park 

President Thomas Jefferson authorized the establishment of Lafayette 
Park when he decided it was too large to be part of the grounds of 
the President's House. Although Charles Bulfinch developed a plan 
for the park, it is not clear how much of this plan was ever 
implemented. The grounds remained unembellished through at least 
the Jefferson administration. 

The Downing plan articulated a specific design response for this open 
space that had not been fully developed before. Downing introduced 
a 19th century romantic landscape design into the area's overall 18th 
century city plan. The plan specifically established the overall spatial 
organization of Lafayette Park. This organization has not changed 
substantially since the plan was implemented in the mid 1 9th cen- 
tury, even though specific design details have been modified. Park 
boundaries have remained the same; exterior circulation patterns 
have not been altered significantly, despite changing transportation 
modes; and interior circulation has only been modified in minor 
ways over time. There are substantially fewer plantings today than 
in the romantic era. Documented vegetative losses would indicate 
that few, if any, plantings survive from the Downing plan. 

The Boschke survey of 1861 (figure 3-8), the most accurate historic 
graphic representation of the Downing plan, has been used as the 
basis for comparing the historic period and existing conditions in 


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Part Ml: Significance and Integrity 



Evaluation of Integrity 


Lafayette Park. The major aspects of the Downing plan that survive 
are the central location of the Andrew Jackson equestrian statue 
within an elliptical planting bed, the symmetrical arrangement of 
paths and other design elements in relation to both the north-south 
and east-west axes, the informal planting arrangement of trees and 
shrubs, the curvilinear network of paths defining irregularly shaped 
areas of lawn, entrances at the park's four corners and at the center 
of the north and south sides of the park, and perimeter sidewalks 
along each of the park's four adjacent streets. The NPS/WPA 
rehabilitation of the park in 1936-37, followed three decades later by 
the implementation of the Warnecke plan, imposed a 20th century 
urban design on an underlying 1 9th century romantic design. 

The greatest changes in Lafayette Park from the Downing plan are 
associated with 20th century modifications and include alterations to 
the park's internal circulation system, and the loss of original de- 
tailed features and the addition of new ones. The implementation of 
the Warnecke plan in 1969-70 included constructing the elliptical 
pools on the park's east and west sides, creating narrow connecting 
walkways to the pools, changing walkway paving materials from 
concrete to brick, relocating the Navy Yard urns to their present 
location at the park’s Pennsylvania Avenue entrance, and installing 
the NPS information kiosk and site furnishings. 

Despite changes, Lafayette Park retains the underlying spatial organi- 
zation and design that characterize the Downing landscape design 
context. In general, park rehabilitations have diminished but have 
not destroyed the integrity of its spatial design. Some changes, in 
fact, are significant under criteria A and B, if not criterion C. The 
park retains sufficient integrity of location and association, even 
though the integrity of feeling has been diminished with changes in 
design, materials, and workmanship. The existing park setting 
remains primarily low-rise, although it is not entirely 19th century 
in character. Vehicular traffic and on-street parking are particularly 
apparent; site furnishings intended for modern uses also diminish the 
integrity of setting. The park still reflects its derivation from a 19th 
century, shaded park with ornamental and canopy trees despite its 
substantial vegetative losses over time. The integrity of vegetative 
material is not strong, and there have been no apparent attempts to 
reestablish the vegetation of the Downing period. The presence of the 
Navy Yard urns enhances integrity even if they do not occupy their 
intended or original locations. This finding of integrity is also 
influenced by the rare survival of other implemented projects asso- 
ciated with Downing and with the park's possible role as an early 
landscape design for a public park in the United States. Diminished 
integrity must be considered in light of the park's role as a rare 
survivor of its type in both instances. Lafayette Park probably retains 


497 

Chapter 1 2 . Evaluation of Integrity 



Evaluation of Integrity 


more integrity than any other surviving property related to this 
context. It also preserves much of its ability to portray Downing's 
original design intent. 

In summary, the Andrew Jackson Downing context for President's 
Park relates primarily to Lafayette Park. Even though Lafayette Park 
has been redesigned three times since the Downing plan (in the 
1870s, 1930s, and 1960s), significant aspects of the park's romantic 
19th century design are still apparent. The persistence of these 
features supports a finding of significance for the design context 
developed under criterion C. However, given its intensity of use and 
number of renovations, its historical integrity is not totally intact. 


The Ellipse 

The Downing plan was also responsible for the initial development of 
the Ellipse. Downing's original layout showed the area as a circle, a 
configuration that apparently was never implemented. Instead, the 
ellipse became the character-defining shape of the space. It is not 
clear exactly how much of the Downing plan was actually imple- 
mented. Although substantial expenditures were made for plantings 
and other landscape improvements in the area, major documented 
losses resulted from the poor drainage of the area, and the features 
that were implemented did not survive for long. On the eve of the 
Civil War official reports indicated that the Downing plan had not 
fared well, primarily because of the failure of drainage and sewer 
systems. The inability to successfully drain the area led to major 
losses before vegetation could become well established. The extensive 
military use of the area during the Civil War resulted in additional 
damage to the area. 

In summary, the implementation of Downing's ideas for what is 
now the Ellipse appears to have been short-lived. Furthermore, the 
lack of visual documentation from the historic period makes an 
integrity evaluation difficult since it is not clear to what extent the 
plan was carried out. Losses of features, such as plant material, are 
well documented. In addition, descriptions of the area during the 
Civil War suggest that the Ellipse might retain little integrity in the 
Downing context apart from the integrity of location and 
association. 


498 

Part III: Significance and Integrity 



Context: Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. 


Evaluation of Integrity 


The historic period for the Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. context is 
1935-94 and applies primarily to the White House grounds. The 
White House grounds also possess significant features that predate 
and postdate 1935 and that contribute to the site's integrity apart 
from the context of the Olmsted landscape management plan. 

The implementation of the Olmsted 1935 plan adapted the White 
House grounds to the needs of its 20th century occupants. This plan 
is largely responsible for differentiating the public and private areas 
of the White House grounds, a distinction that remains characteristic 
today. The plan identified areas of the grounds that could be screened 
visually and that would afford private outdoor spaces for use by the 
presidential household. Recent changes to the grounds, particularly 
the many recreational facilities that have been developed during the 
last two decades, have occurred in the private areas of the grounds. 
The more public portions of the grounds have experienced change to 
a lesser degree since the implementation of the Olmsted plan. 

The Olmsted plan contributed to the efficiency of circulation and the 
need for the privacy of the presidential household as reinterpreted 
during the first decades of the 20th century. Characteristics of the 
plan that endure include the planting redesign intended to strengthen 
the lawn's north-south axis and to increase privacy on the east and 
west portions of the south lawn. In addition, the implementation of 
the plan also resulted in the loss of earlier features: the plan called for 
the replacement of the 1818 and 1873 fencing and the removal of 
the fiddle-shaped drive on the upper south lawn. The drives were 
inefficient for vehicular use and were also considered unattractive; 
there was also some realignment of the northern end of the 
surviving outer drive. 

The legacy of the Olmsted plan is still evident on the White House 
grounds: the vehicular circulation Olmsted proposed and that 
President Franklin D. Roosevelt modified continues to be the 
predominant vehicular circulation pattern on the south lawn. The 
practice of maintaining a vegetative screen on the east and west sides 
of south lawn has survived. The view corridor to the. south has 
endured, becoming a familiar visual representation of the White 
House as seen from South Executive Avenue and the Ellipse. The 
White House grounds and its vegetation have continued to be main- 
tained according to the overall management principles proposed in 
the Olmsted plan. 

Other changes initiated in this period were associated with increased 
wartime security needs, and they established important security 


499 

Chapter 11. Evaluationof Integrity 



Evaluation of integrity precedents. Following the attack on Pearl Harbor sentry boxes were 

established at each entrance to the grounds; visitors were barred 
from the White House grounds where previously they had freely 
strolled; and East and West Executive Avenues were closed to traffic. 
Since these changes relate to the significance of the site under 
criterion A, they do not diminish overall integrity. 

There have been considerable additions to the White House grounds 
since 1945. However, an examination of existing conditions indicates 
that no addition has departed substantially from the principles of the 
Olmsted plan. Subsequent additions on the grounds include the 
Children's Garden, the President’s Patio, the swimming pool com- 
plex, the basketball court, and the jogging track. Other development 
projects include the expansion and further development of the 
guardhouses, the construction of a visitor entrance building, and the 
development and expansion of the maintenance facility. In general, 
these types of actions have occurred in areas that as a result of the 
Olmsted plan are screened with dense vegetation and are not highly 
visible. Changes in these areas have tended to . reflect the interests, 
needs, and tastes of each first family. 

Additions to the landscape since the Olmsted plan do not diminish 
the integrity of the Olmsted context of landscape management in 
terms of overall design and spatial organization. Essentially, the plan 
is still in effect in that its vegetative management philosophies 
provide guidance for tree maintenance and replacement. The 
circulation patterns established by the plan survive, as do site 
boundaries, land use, and significant view corridors. The White 
House landscape possesses substantial integrity when evaluated in 
terms of an Olmsted landscape. It retains integrity of location, 
design, setting, feeling, and association. The greatest degree of change 
has been in individual plantings and in the addition of small garden 
features and the redesign or addition of recreational facilities. As a 
result, the integrity of materials and workmanship from the 1 935- 
45 era is especially strong. Vegetation appears to be replaced 
frequently, in keeping with the high level of maintenance associated 
with this site. Changes to the White House grounds occurred prior to 
and following the adoption of the Olmsted plan, and they are 
expected to continue in the future as administrations and executive 
policies change. 


500 

Part 1)1: Significance and Integrity 



Summary 7 


Summary 


Integrity has been evaluated in the context of both the American 
presidency (including first families) and the administration of the 
executive branch of the United States government. A comparison of 
the existing landscape appearance and composition with the historic 
appearance and composition as presented in the site history reveals a 
high and complex level of integrity for these contexts. The various 
qualities and characteristics that existed historically are often present 
today, sometimes in substantially the original form, but also at 
times in modified ways that reveal how they and their settings have 
evolved over time. At President's Park, the very process of landscape 
evolution has become significant, therefore the evolved landscape 
possesses integrity because of the unique historical associations of 
this site. 

President's Park possesses integrity when evaluated in light of the 
late 18th century city planning context. The fact that essential char- 
acteristics of the L'Enfant plan have survived is indicative of its 
widespread acceptance as the original and enduring design concept. It 
continues to be used to guide decisions affecting spatial organization, 
circulation, land use, and views and vistas for the site. The plan 
strongly influenced Andrew Jackson Downing and Frederick Law 
Olmsted Jr., and it still influences contemporary designers and 
planners. 

The Olmsted plan is still in effect today. Its management philosophy 
provides guidance for vegetation maintenance and replacement. The 
circulation patterns that the plan identified still survive, as do the site 
boundaries, land use, and significant view corridors. Despite its 
evolving nature, the White House landscape possesses substantial in- 
tegrity when evaluated in terms of the Olmsted recommendations. It 
retains integrity of location, design, setting, feeling, and association. 
The greatest changes have been in individual plantings and in the 
addition and modification of small garden features and recreational 
facilities. 




501 

Chapter 11. Evaluation of Integrity 




Chapter 12. Conclusions and 
Recommendations 


Conclusions 

T he landscape of the White House and President's Park has 
been the focus of activities associated with the U.S. 
presidency and the administration of the executive branch of 
government since 1800, when John and Abigail Adams 
moved into the White House. It is a dynamic, layered landscape that 
reflects its development and use for over two centuries. It represents 
many historic periods and is related to several historical contexts. 
Change occurs regularly as dictated by the operational, security, and 
privacy requirements of the Executive Office of the President. 

The current landscape of President's Park has evolved as a result of a 
multitude of uses and historical factors. It possesses distinct physical 
landscape characteristics, types and concentrations of extant historic 
features, as well as specific uses that have influenced its evolution. 
Some changes or layers may be more important than others because 
of their association with particular events or persons or the character 
of their designs. 

President's Park as it exists today has undergone modifications and 
improvements. The continuum of use and association unifies the dis- 
parate elements and characteristics from various historical periods 
and gives the property its distinctive identity. While all changes that 
have occurred between 1791 and 1994 reflect the evolution of the 
site and represent the historic setting and scene at various periods, 
they may not be all equal in significance, either for association or for 
design. For example, alterations to public spaces, such as the erection 
of monuments and memorials, may have greater importance and 
permanence than the individual recreational facilities on the White 
House grounds that are associated with various first families. 

Following the guidelines for the National Register of Historic Places, 
appropriate historic contexts have been developed for the landscape 
of President's Park, and a preliminary assessment of significance has 
been made, as discussed in chapter 10. The integrity of the Presi- 
dent's Park landscape has been assessed, and its character-defining 
features are described in chapter 1 1 . 


503 

Chapter 12. Conclusions and Recommendations 



-Recommendations 


Five specific contexts of significance have been developed under criteria 
A, B, and C of the National Register of Historic Places: 

(1) The presidency and the administration of the executive branch of 
government — criterion A, event; period of significance: 1 791 to 
the present 

(2) First families — criterion B, persons; period of significance: 
1791 to the present 

(3) Late 18th century city planning — criterion C, design/ 
construction; period of significance: 1791-1820 

(4) Andrew Jackson Downing — criterion C, design/construction; 
period of significance: 1850-85 

(5) Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. — criterion C, design/construction; 
period of significance: 1934-52 (possibly until the present) 

The landscape of President's Park is nationally significant under all of 
these contexts. In addition, it may be internationally significant under 
the first three contexts. 

In chapter 1 1 it was determined that the landscape of President's Park 
has a high degree of integrity for all contexts through the present. 
Combining all contexts with their associated levels and periods of 
significance, it can therefore be stated that the site has national 
significance under criteria A, B and C of the National Register of 
Historic Places for the period 1791 through the present. 


Recommendations 

President's Park is a dynamic landscape that is continually evolving. 
It is extremely complex; it has a very long history; and it is asso- 
ciated with presidents, first families, designers, and leading national 
and international figures. Writing the definitive history of such a 
landscape is not a simple process. No single set of records can provide 
answers to all the questions and issues regarding the evolution of 
this landscape since its original design by Pierre Charles L'Enfant in 
1791. New and pertinent information continues to become available 
on a regular basis. Incorporating this new information will require 
periodic revisions of the site history. In some cases the changes might 
be minor, but in others they might require substantial rewriting and 
modification of the overall interpretation. To accommodate this 
ongoing process, the Office of White House Liaison should consider 
issuing revised or updated sections of the site history or other 


504 


PART III: SIGNIFICANCE AND INTEGRITY 



segments of this document periodically (possibly every 5 to 10 
years), depending on the amount of information uncovered. 

To adequately document the landscape resources at President's Park, 
the Office of White House Liaison should consider developing an 
automated database that would include visual materials. With 
modern scanning technology, it would be possible to create a data- 
base of existing features with a relatively small amount of time and 
effort. It would also be appropriate to identify photo points on the 
grounds to facilitate picture taking and the eventual comparison of 
changes over time. As additional funds became available, this 
automated database could incorporate historic materials, such as 
plans and drawings. This system would facilitate access to infor- 
mation; it would permit quick response to research questions; and it 
would allow for the relatively easy incorporation of newly discov- 
ered documents. It might be possible to use it in conjunction with a 
Geographic Information System that would track all the identified 
landscape resources at the site and their evolution through time. This 
type of system would also allow site maps to be quickly updated and 
for photographic materials to be easily retrieved. 

Several aspects of the history of this landscape need further analysis. 
Specific details on the installation and removal of fencing, descrip- 
tions of specific fencing types, the recycling of certain portions, and 
in some cases the replacement of fences with hedges should receive 
further attention. Some of these changes were for aesthetic reasons, 
but it seems that in other cases they were the result of privacy or 
security considerations. 

By the 1820s the fence north of the President's House along Pennsyl- 
vania Avenue supported oil lamps, but it is not clear when they were 
first installed. Gas light fixtures replaced the oil lamps by the late 
1840s, but descriptions of specific models, and dates of installations 
and removals, are difficult to establish. Information on the installa- 
tion of electric arc lights and their replacement with incandescent 
lighting also needs to be compiled. 

In writing this document an effort was made to gather a substantial 
portion of the available information on commemorative plantings. 
However, this is a difficult topic because often there is no informa- 
tion on trees that have died and their replacements. At times the 
available information is contradictory. 

Once this information has been compiled and cross-referenced, it 
would be important to develop site maps that will graphically 
demonstrate how the landscape has evolved through time. These site 


Recommendations 


505 

Chapter 12 . Conclusions and Recommendations 



Recommend a f ions 


maps could be accompanied by appropriate photographs or drawings 
that would document specific features for specific periods. 


Finally, a systematic analysis of landscape characteristics (such as 
views and vistas, spatial organization, circulation, use, and cluster 
arrangements) should be conducted. An evaluation of the changes 
through time would greatly enhance the quality of this document 
and assist in guiding management decisions. 

The relationship between the landscape of President’s Park and the 
surrounding neighborhoods needs to be systematically analyzed. 
This is also a complex research topic that will require substantial 
effort, particularly if the existing national register nominations do 
not include adequate information on the development of the adjacent 
landscapes. As in the case of the White House and President's Park, 
research will require the examination of extensive documentation 
and cannot be solely based on a limited set of official records. 

Use is one of the aspects of President's Park that is most difficult to 
document systematically. The complexity of evaluating this land- 
scape stems in large part from the multiple uses associated with it. 
The annual reports of the commissioner of public buildings and the 
chief of engineers provide very valuable information, but they 
seldom address this topic. It is not possible to identify one set or one 
type of record that would include all the required data for this site. 
Therefore, this effort would require judicious analysis of a broad 
spectrum of historical data. 

Ceremonial functions and uses are probably among the most impor- 
tant aspects of the site. However, the information available is frag- 
mentary and needs to be pieced together to provide a systematic 
perspective of how ceremonial uses changed with time. For example, 
ceremonies were held associated with the cornerstone laying in 1 792. 
The arched entry at the southeast gate (figure 1-8) completed by 
Benjamin Latrobe during the Jefferson administration was cere- 
monial in nature. Presidents were feted on the lawn during inaugural 
activities, and they reviewed troops from its doorways. 1 President 
Abraham Lincoln addressed the crowds from the north portico. 
Major gaps in information still exist for the 19th and early 20th 
centuries. Ceremonial uses of the Ellipse and Pennsylvania Avenue 
also need to be explored. 

Other uses characterize the landscape of President's Park. Since the 
first decade of the 20th century certain areas have become the 


1 . This information was provided by O'Brien (1MRO/NPS), February 2000. 


506 


Part ill: Significance and Integrity 



recreational grounds for presidents and first families. John Quincy 
Adams's interest in horticulture is well documented, but information 
on the activities of other 1 9th century presidents is scattered. 

Public use of the grounds has also changed over time. The site is 
synonymous with the idea of political democracy, and it has always 
been necessary to maintain the notion of presidential accessibility. 
Security issues have often prevented public access, but no systematic 
trend can be easily established. Concern about the safety of the 
president was heightened after the attempt on Andrew Jackson's life 
at the Capitol in the 1830s and increased dramatically after Lincoln's 
assassination. However, at times rules were apparently relaxed and 
public crossing of the grounds was not forbidden. Information on 
this topic is also sketchy and needs more systematic development and 
interpretation. 

While the landscape of the White House and President's Park is 
without a doubt aesthetically beautiful and reflects great care and 
pride, its beauty is derived from intensive horticultural practices and 
relies primarily on the use of attractive exotic plants. It might be 
appropriate to consider a more sustainable approach to the horti- 
cultural management of the site by reinstituting a precedent set by 
President John Quincy Adams almost 200 years ago. Adams dedi- 
cated a portion of the grounds to develop an arboretum of American 
trees and plants. It would be interesting to explore the reapplication 
of Adams's concept, at least to certain portions of the grounds, 
where a cross section of the native vegetation of the United States 
could be planted, possibly on a rotating basis. The White House 
would then become a national example of the beauty and importance 
of native vegetation and would establish a precedent to be followed 
throughout the nation. 


Rtwmmendatioris 


507 

Chapter 12. Conclusions and Recommendations 




Bibliography 


The following abbreviations have been used throughout the footnotes: 

DOI Department of the Interior 
DSC Denver Service Center (NPS) 

ESF Executive Support Facility(NPS) 

NA National Archives 

NPS National Park Service 

OC Office of the Curator 

PBA Public Buildings Administration 
RG Record Group (NA) 

WH White House 

WHL White House Liaison (NPS) 

WPA Works Progress Administration 


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Adams, John Quincy. The Diary of John Quincy Adams, 1794-1845. Edited by 
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Bacon, Edmund N. Design of Cities. Harmondsworth, England: Penguin Books, 
Ltd., 1978. 

Balmori, Diana. "Campus Work and Public Landscapes." In Beatrix Farrand's 
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Small, John H., Jr. "Some Small Parks in Washington, D.C.: Evolution in Path 
Systems." Landscape Architecture, October 1918. 

Snyder, Charles M. The Lady and the President: The Letters of Dorothea Dix and 
Millard Fillmore. Lexington, KY: N.p., 1975 

Stephenson, Richard W. "The Delineation of a Grand Plan." Quarterly Journal of 
the Library of Congress 36, no. 3 (Summer 1979): 207-24. 

Stine, Mary Jo "White House Gardens Always in Season." Courier 32, no. .3 
(March 1987): 2-4. 

"Strange Features at the White House." The National Spectator, April 3, 1926, 
39-40. 

The Stranger's Guide-Book to Washington City and Everybody’s Pocket Handy- 
Book. Washington, DC: William F. Richstein, 1864. 

Streatfield, David C., "The Olmsteds and the Language of the Mall." In The 
Mall in Washington, 1791-1991, edited by Richard Longstreth, 116-41. 
Washington, DC: National Gallery of Art, 1991. 

Streeter, E. S., comp. The Stranger's Guide, or the Daguerreotype of Washington, 
D.C. Washington, DC: C. Alexander, Printer, 1850. 

Strong, Roy. Royal Gardens. New York: Pocket Books, 1991 

Summerson, John. Architecture in Britain, 1530-1830. Harmondsworth: 
Penguin Books, 1977. 




Index 


General Index 


A 

accessibility concerns: Bush 
(GHW) tenure, 344; Johnson 
(LB) tenure, 311; today, 365, 
376,385,394 
Adams, Abigail, 21, 52 
Adams, Henry, 203 
Adams, John, 13, 21-22, 30, 48, 
270 

Adams, John Quincy, 43-44, 49, 
52, 65-66; and Bulfinch, 47; 
dm, 26, 339, 343-344, 367; 
and grounds, 44, 48, 507 
Adams, Louisa Catherine, 48 
administration of executive 
branch: and integrity of White 
House and President's Park, 
490-493; and significance of 
White House and President's 
Park, 464-466, 476, 504 
Aesthetic Master Plan, 351 
Agriculture Department Building, 
269 

Alexandre, Jean, 145 
American Forestry Association, 
264 , 289 

American Golf Association, 301 
American Institute of Architects, 
178, 179, 184, 263 
American Institute of Park 
Executives, 385 
American Peace Society, 385 
American Red Cross, 193; 

headquarters of, 206, 269, 390 
American Society of Landscape 
Architects, 245 
amphitheater, on Ellipse, 390 
Amsterdam, as model for L'Enfant 
plan, 16, 469 
Anacostia River, 1 5 
anchors, 211; Reagan tenure, 
351-352; today, 378 


Andrews, Joseph, 69 
animals: bear cubs, 27; cows, 211, 
236; deer, 349; dogs, 303, 315; 
ponies, 303; prairie dogs, 141; rats, 
93; sheep, 193-194, 226; squirrels, 
348. See also pest control 
anthemion design: definition of, 44; 
fences, 44, 66; railings, 50, 71, 72, 
88, 112, 118, 123, 127, 164, 185 
Appropriation Number 1 , 20 
arboretum, of native species, 44, 48, 
507 

arbors: grape, 305, 329; Pierce tenure, 
89; Polk tenure, 56; Reagan tenure, 
341; today, 369; Wilson tenure, 192 
arches: Downing plan and, 84, 85, 87; 

Latrobe and, 27, 40 
architectural integrity, 490 
Army of the Tennessee, 204 
Arthur, Chester A., 132 
artillery, Cleveland tenure, 1 44 
Asbjornsen, Sigvald, 204 
association: and integrity, 489, 491, 
492, 497. See also Criterion A; 
Criterion B 

Association of Art Museum Directors, 
345 

authenticity, and integrity, 488 
axial extension, Paris model and, 469, 
476, 479 

axial views: east-west, 310; north- 
south, 297, 301, 315, 349, 372 


B 

Babcock, Orville E., 121, 126, 127, 
128, 129, 140, 141, 147 
Bachmann, John, 102 
Bacon, Henry, 210 
Bacon-style lampposts, 177, 195, 
365-366, 377, 379, 395, 413 
Baker, Anne, 271, 273 


525 

General Index 



Baker, Anthony St. John, 
watercolor of President's 
House, 49, 68 

band shell: Kennedy tenure, 304, 
316; proposed, 310 
bandstands: Grant tenure, 121; 
Hayes tenure, 122, 131, 157; 
in Potomac Park, 1 89; Taft 
tenure, 207 

Bank of the United States, 45 
barns, cow, Fillmore tenure, 88 
Baroque formalism: and integrity, 
493—496, 501; and 
significance, 468-472, 476, 

504 

barracks, during World War II, 
267-268, 273, 292-293 
barriers: today, 365. See also 
bollards 

Baruch, Bernard, 307, 387-388, 
445 

baseball diamonds, 177, 209, 

266, 268 

basketball court, 372, 373, 427; 
Bush (GHW) tenure, 344-345; 
and integrity, 500 
Bate, William Brimmage, 143 
Beaumont, Andrew, 43 
beautification programs, 297, 

305, 310, 312, 313, 316, 349 
Beaux-Arts Society, 1 84 
Becker, Ralph E., 313 
Beebe (James) & Co., 88 
Belasco Theater, 308 
benches: Bernard Baruch Bench of 
Inspiration, 307, 387-388, 

445; Bush (GHW) tenure, 350; 
Harrison (B) tenure, 135; 
Jackson tenure, 52; Pierce 
tenure, 89; Reagan tenure, 342; 
today, 368, 370, 371, 372, 

373, 377, 379, 382, 386, 389, 
392-393, 395, 397, 399; Van 
Buren tenure, 54; Wilson 
tenure, 191. See also seats; 
settees 

Bernard Baruch Bench of 

Inspiration, 307, 387-388, 445 
Bicentennial Tree, 338 
bicycle rack, 379 


bicycle riding, Cleveland tenure, 152, 
158 

Bingham, Theodore A., 121, 138, 139, 
175, 178, 186, 188 
bird feeder, 386 
Bizet, Charles, 47, 58 
Blake, John B., 77, 91, 92, 97, 101 
Blodgett’s Hotel, 21, 37 
Bloodgood Company, 51 
Bohn, Casimir, 96, 119 
Bois de Boulogne, 1 80 
Bolivar, Simon, 206 
bollards: Pennsylvania Avenue project, 
343, 353; today, 365, 373, 377, 
381, 384, 395 
Bonus March, 194 

Bordeaux, as model for L'Enfant plan, 
16, 469 

Boschke, Albert, 92, 93, 97, 102, 1 14, 

148, 496-497 
Boucher, Henry M., 272 
Boulsant, Ed, 96 
box-leaf miner, 197, 241 

Boy Scout Memorial, 298, 312, 315, 
336; fountain, 350; today, 392- 
393 , 452 

Boy Scouts of America, fiftieth 
anniversary of, 307 
Brackenridge, William D., 82, 86, 98, 
100, 101 

Brady, Matthew, 91, 94, 113, 11 8 
Breckenridge Boys Choir, 304 
Bremer, Fredrika, 57, 58 
bridges: proposed, 84, 187; Taft 
tenure, 207; today, 376 
Bromwell, Charles S., 175, 188, 189 
Brown, George H., 128, 132, 133, 136 
Brown, Glenn, 178 
Brown, H., 69 
Brown, J. Carter, 345-346 
Buchanan, James, 91 
Buckingham Palace, 471 
Budapest, as model for McMillan plan, 
180 

Buist, Robert, 82, 92 
Bulfinch, Charles, 43, 46, 47, 66, 157, 
265, 393; and gates, 45; and 
Lafayette Square, 58, 496 
Bulfinch, Stephen Greenleaf, 46 
Bulfinch gatehouses: Hayes tenure, 

149, 157, 167; relationship to 



landscape, 2; Roosevelt (FD) 
tenure, 268; today, 391, 393- 
394 , 457 

Bulfinch gateposts, 149 
Bulfinch lodge, 153 
Bulfinch plan, 43, 47, 58, 59, 66 
Burnap, George, 192, 210, 211, 
212, 233 

Burnham, Daniel, 213; and 
Commission of Fine Arts, 1 90; 
and McMillan plan, 1 77, 178, 
179, 182, 212 
Burnes, David, 20, 29 
Bush, Barbara, 26, 343, 370 
Bush, George H. W., 343, 370 
Butt, Archibald, 207, 393 
Butt-Millet fountain, 1 76, 207, 
208, 213; Bush (GHW) tenure, 
336, 350; today, 393, 453 

c 

cabana, 337, 344, 352, 357, 369- 
370 

Caemmerer, H. E, 246 
Calder, Alexander, 346 
camellia house, Cleveland tenure, 
136, 137 

Cammerer, Arno B., 250 
cannon, 29, 211; Johnson (LB) 
tenure, 311; Reagan tenure, 
351; today, 378, 386, 387, 

389, 439 

Cantor (Iris and B. Gerald) 
Foundation, 346 
capital of United States: location 
of, 14-20; survey of, 15. See 
also District of Columbia 
Capitol building, 3, 4; McMillan 
plan and, 175, 182, 183; Mills 
plan for, 56; Pennsylvania 
Avenue plan and, 298; 
reconstruction of, 44 
carriage house, Jefferson tenure, 
27 

Carroll, Daniel, 1 5 
Carrollsburg, 16, 33 
Carter, Amy, 338 
Carter, James Earl "Jimmy," 338, 
364,370 

Carter, Rosalynn, 338, 370, 373 


Casey, Edward Pearce, 206, 269 
Casey, Thomas Lincoln, 121, 130-131, 
141-142; and Ellipse, 148, 166 
caterpillars, 143, 202, 241 
cellars, Jefferson tenure, 26-27 
Center for Urban Ecology, 348 
Central Park, NY, 472, 473 
ceremonial uses, documentation of, 

506 

Chamber of Commerce Building, 4, 
175, 184, 203, 212 
Chatsworth, 80 
Chief of Staff's Patio, 341, 352 
Children's Garden: and integrity, 492, 
500; Johnson (LB) tenure, 297-298, 
299, 306, 315, 316, 332; Reagan 
tenure, 341, 344, 352; today, 372, 
425 

Christian Endeavor convention, 1 52 
Christmas Pageant of Peace, 349; 
1948-1969, 312; Eisenhower 
tenure, 298, 315; today, 390-391, 
395 

City Beautiful ideal, 1 75, 474-476 
city planning, late eighteenth-century: 
and integrity, 493-496, 501; and 
significance, 468^172, 476, 504 
City Square no. 249, 51 
Civilian Conservation Corps, 259 
Civil War, 77, 78, 92, 98, 103, 104, 
105; damage from, repair of, 140, 
146; DAR memorial to, 206 
Clarke, Gilmore D., 246, 252-253 
Clay Battalion, 93, 117 
clay pit, for construction of President's 
House, 21 

Cleveland, Frances Folsom, 133, 135, 
136, 137, 373 

Cleveland, Grover, 132, 133, 136 
Cleveland, H. W. S., 148 
Clinton, Hillary Rodham, 335, 345, 
352, 359, 368, 370, 373, 492 
Clinton, William Jefferson, 345-346, 
359, 3 70, 373 

Cloisters, 263. See also magnolia patio 
clothes-drying yard, 187-188, 218; 
Coolidge tenure, 196; Roosevelt (FD) 
tenure, 243; Wilson tenure, 1 93 
Columbia Historical Society, 49 
Columbian Exposition, 1 77, 244 



Columbian Family lampposts, 
266, 366, 415 

commemorative trees: 1901- 
1929, 176; 1969-1994, 335; 
Bush (GHW), 343-344; Carter 
tenure, 338; Clinton tenure, 
345; Coolidge tenure, 204; 
Eisenhower tenure, 301, 366, 
418; Ford tenure, 338; Harding 
tenure, 195; historiographic 
analysis of, recommendations 
for, 505; Hoover tenure, 242, 
275; and integrity, 490; 
Jefferson memorial, 260, 273, 
287; Johnson (LB) tenure, 306; 
Kennedy tenure, 303; Nixon 
tenure, 337; in Olmsted 
survey, 247; policy on, 335, 
346-347; Reagan tenure, 339, 
340; Roosevelt (FD) tenure, 

240, 259-260; Roosevelt (T) 
tenure, 188; today, 364, 366, 
368, 370-371, 373, 381; 
Truman tenure, 300, 318; 
Wilson tenure, 192, 202, 338 
Commerce Department Building, 
175,212,269,390 
Commissioner of Public 

Buildings, 15, 43; abolition of 
office, 121, 124; L'Enfant and, 
19 

Commission of Fine Arts, 190, 
202, 212, 240, 263; and 
Bulfinch gatehouses, 268; and 
Jefferson Memorial, 270; and 
lighting proposal for Lafayette 
Park, 307; and Olmsted plan, 
245, 246, 252; and renovation 
of Lafayette Park, 308, 310; 
and Truman balcony, 264; and 
Washington Monument, 270 
Commission on Renovation of the 
Executive Mansion, 299 
Committee for a More Beautiful 
Capital, 305 

Committee for the Preservation of 
the White House, 345-346 
Community Christmas Tree, 
Hoover tenure, 266 
concerts. Marine Band, 44, 55, 

78, 94, 124, 131, 135, 139, 


157, 176-177, 189, 193, 213, 336, 
353 

condition, and integrity, 488-489 
Connecticut Girl Scouts, 260 
conservation. See historic preservation 
conservatories: Arthur tenure, 132; 
Buchanan tenure, 91, 92; Cleveland 
tenure, 133, 136, 137, 138; Grant 
tenure, 125; Harrison (B) tenure, 
134; Hayes tenure, 130, 131; 
Johnson (A) tenure, 124; Lincoln 
tenure, 77, 92, 104; McKinley 
tenure, 138, 139, 140; Roosevelt (T) 
tenure, 1 76, 186. See also 
greenhouses; hothouse; orangery 
Constitution Avenue, 394 
construction, and significance of 
White House and President's Park, 
467-476 

Coolidge, Calvin, 195, 196, 209 
Coolidge, Grace, 196, 199, 204 
Corcoran, William Wilson, 80, 124, 
125 

Corcoran and Riggs, 95 
Corcoran Gallery of Art, 4, 153, 180, 
269, 309 

Cosby, Spencer, 175, 189, 190, 191 
cottage, on Peerce property, 20 
Council of Fine Arts, 1 90 
Court of Claims, U. S., 309 
Court of History, 201 
courtyards: Monroe and, 45; today, 
377 

cows, 211, 236 
cowshed, Jefferson tenure, 27 
Cox, Edward, 337 
Cram, Ralph Adams, 1 92 
Cret, Paul Philippe, 206, 269 
Criterion A, National Register of 
Historic Places, 463, 504; 
application of, 464-466, 476 
Criterion B, National Register of 
Historic Places, 463, 504; 
application of, 466-467, 476 
Criterion C, National Register of 
Historic Places, 463, 504; 
application of, 467-476, 476-^477 
Criterion D, National Register of 
Historic Places, 464, 504 
Crump, John, 156 



Cultural Landscape Report : context 
of, 6-7; methodology of, 4-6; 
revisions to, recommendations 
for, 504-507 

curbing, Cleveland tenure, 144, 
145 

Curtis, George C., 1 80 

D 

Dalrymple, captain, 246 
d'Angers, Pierre- Jean David, 57 
database, historical, 

recommendations for, 505 
Daughters of the American 
Revolution, 268, 385; District 
Patentees Memorial, 240, 268, 
273, 393, 456; Memorial 
Continental Hall, 4, 206-207, 
269, 390 

Davidson, Samuel, 20 
Davis, Alexander Jackson, 60, 79, 
184 

Davis, John, 96 
Davis, Theodore, 1 72 
Deacy, William Henry, 312 
Decatur, Stephen, house of, 58, 

73, 308 
deer, 349 

de Grasse statue, 386 
DeKrafft, F. C., 58 
Delano, Frederic A., 199 
Delano, William Adams, 240, 
268,270, 273 
DeLue, Donald, 312 
Demaray, A. E., 251-252, 254 
demonstrations, in Lafayette 
Park, 311, 316, 384-385, 438 
Departments, U.S. See 
Agriculture, Commerce, 
Interior, Justice, Labor, Navy, 
State, Treasury, or War 
Department 

design: and integrity, 489; and 
significance of White House 
and President's Park, 467-476 
designed historic landscape: 
definition of, 6, 487-488; 
President's Park as, 6-7, 487 
d'Estaing statue, 386 
Dickens, Charles, 55 


Discula anthracnose (fungal blight), 

344 

District of Columbia: Boschke map of, 
92, 93, 97, 102, 114, 148, 496- 
497; centennial observance, 1 78; 
Committee Report plan for, 215; 
Davis sketch of, 1 72; Downing's 
work in, 80-84; improvements in, 
Sessford on, 49-50; Keily map of, 

86, 109 ; location of, 14-20; 
retrospective map of, versus 
L'Enfant plan, 16 ,33; and 
sidewalks, 347; Manner map of, 53 
District of Columbia Department of 
Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, 
Historic Preservation Division, 4 
District of Columbia Federation of 
Women's Clubs, 196 
District of Columbia Highways 
Division, 267 

District Patentees Memorial, 240, 268, 
273, 393, 456 
Dix, Dorothea, 99, 100 
dogs, 303, 315 
Dolley Madison House, 308 
Douglas, Charles, 43, 61, 62 
Downing, Andrew Jackson, 5 7, 77, 
105, 107, 108, 313, 393; biography 
of, 78-84; career of, 79-80; death 
of, 84, 85-86; and integrity of 
White House and President's Park, 
496^198, 501 ; landscapes by, 
survival of, 77; and L'Enfant plan, 
77, 86, 495; salary of, 82, 86, 98; 
and significance of White House and 
President's Park, 472-474, 477, 

504; Wilson on, 151 
Downing, Caroline De Wint, 78, 86 
Downing, Charles, 78, 79 
Downing, Eunice Bridge, 78 
Downing, Samuel, 78 
Downing (A.J.) and Co., 79 
Downing plan, 77-120, 107, 108; 
criticism of, 77, 86, 99; and Ellipse, 
148; and integrity of White House 
and President's Park, 496-498, 501 ; 
isometric view and, 60; and 
Lafayette Park, 265, 273, 291; 
McMillan plan and, 182, 183; NPS 
and, 240; and significance of White 
House and President's Park, 472- 



474, 4 77, 504; survivals of, 
473-474 

drainage: Arthur tenure, 143, 

149; Bush (GHW) tenure, 344; 
Cleveland tenure, 145, 150, 

157; Fillmore tenure, 88, 101- 
102; Grant tenure, 127, 140, 
141; Harrison (B) tenure, 151; 
Hayes tenure, 142; Johnson 
(A) tenure, 146; Lincoln tenure, 
93; McKinley tenure, 146; Polk 
tenure, 62; Roosevelt (T) 
tenure, 201; today, 375, 391 
drinking fountains: Bush (GHW) 
tenure, 350; Cleveland tenure, 
144, 146; Grant tenure, 140; 
Hoover tenure, 264; Taft 
tenure, 202; today, 370, 373, 
382, 386, 389, 395, 397; 
Wilson tenure, 202 
drives. See roads and drives 
du Portail statue, 386 
Dutch elm disease, 269, 335, 338; 
Tidal Basin tree resistant to, 
346-347 


E 

Easby, William, 77, 82-83, 83, 

87, 88, 95, 96 
East Cowes Castle, 82 
Easter egg roll: 1901-1929, 213; 
1969-1994, 336, 353; Coolidge 
tenure, 197; Hayes tenure, 

122, 130, 157; Hoover tenure, 
241; McKinley tenure, 138, 

139, 140, 162 

East Executive Avenue: closing of, 
335, 342, 352; construction of, 
1, 121, 123, 125, 126, 127, 
157; Roosevelt (FD) tenure, 

240, 261, 500; Schreiner sketch 

of, 155, 169; Wilson tenure, 

208 

East Executive Park, 335, 352; 

today, 380-382, 405, 407, 434 
east fountain: Johnson (A) 
tenure, 123, 157; Roosevelt 
(FD) tenure, 249; today, 381, 
435 


East Garden, 367-368, 419; 1948- 
1969, 297; Coolidge tenure, 196; 
Johnson (LB) tenure, 305; Kennedy 
tenure, 304; PBA report on, 262; 
Roosevelt (FD) tenure, 247, 254, 

255, 279; today, 26, 366, 367-368, 
419; Truman renovations and, 299, 
300, 322, 323; Truman tenure, 263, 
299; Wilson tenure, 193, 194, 212, 
222, 223. See also Jacqueline 
Kennedy Garden 
East Potomac Park, 4, 212 
East Wing, 380, 381, 435; 1865-1901, 
123; Harding tenure, 195; Roosevelt 
(FD) tenure, 247, 261; Roosevelt (T) 
tenure, 175, 185 

eighteenth-century city planning: and 
integrity, 493^496, 501; and 
significance, 468^172, 476, 504 
Eisenhower, Dwight D., 301, 315, 370 
Eisenhower, Dwight D., Executive 
Office Building. See Old Executive 
Office Building 
Elgar, Joseph, 43, 60 
Eliot, Charles, 244 
Eliot, Charles II, 297 
Elizabeth II, queen of Great Britain, 
and commemorative tree, 343, 370 
Ellicott, Andrew, 13, 15, 17, 18 
Ellicott, Benjamin, 18 
Ellicott plan, 19, 35; detail of, 19, 36; 
Ellipse area in, 30, 36; on grounds, 
20; Lafayette Square in, 28; and 
terraces, 62 

Ellipse: 1815-1850, 43; 1865-1901, 
121, 122, 157-158; 1929-1948, 
240, 266, 293; 1948-1969, 299; 
Buchanan tenure, 91; Casey-Hayes 
plan and, 148, 266; Christmas tree 
on, 266; component landscapes of, 
487; Downing plan and, 77, 78, 
98-103, 105, 208, 114; in early 
years, 30, 36, 61-62, 66; Grant 
tenure, 126, 147; Flayes tenure, 
148-149; integrity of, 491, 498; 
Johnson (LB) tenure, 312, 313; 

Keily map of, 86, 209; Marine Band 
concerts on, 176, 193, 207; 
McMillan plan and, 1 83; 
photographs of, 149, 153, 267, 168; 
Pierce tenure, 89; relationship with 



other units, 2; Roosevelt (T) 
tenure, 201, 205; significance 
of, 465; term, 148; today, 390- 
395, 405, 407, 448 ; visitor 
pavilion, 336, 351, 360, 394, 
458 ; Wilson tenure, 232. See 
also President's Park South 
elm-leaf beetle, 138, 190, 197, 
202, 241 

Enthoffer, Joseph, 131 
entrances: Bush (GHW) tenure, 
344; Coolidge tenure, 196; 
Downing plan and, 85; Hoban 
and, 21; Jackson tenure, 53; 
Jefferson tenure, 23, 24; 
Johnson (A) tenure, 123, 157, 
158, 159; Nixon tenure, 336; 
Olmsted report on, 256; 
Roosevelt (FD) tenure, 252, 

278; Roosevelt (T) tenure, 185; 
today, 364, 365, 374, 377- 
378; to Treasury Building, 154, 
1 70, 210; IVuman tenure, 263 
environmental movement, 
Johnson (Lady Bird) and, 305 
Ernst, Oswald H., 121, 134, 151 
E Street, 240, 345; Olmsted on, 
267; Roosevelt (FD) tenure, 

273; today, 394 

ethnographic landscape, definition 
of, 487 

evolution of landscape of 

President's Park, 466, 503; first 
families and, 467; and 
integrity, 488, 491, 492, 501; 
tracking, recommendations for, 
505 

executive branch, administration 
of: and integrity of White 
House and President's Park, 
490-493; and significance of 
White House and President's 
Park, 464—466, 476, 504 
executive buildings, 74; Ellicott 
plan on, 19; Hyde de Neuville 
watercolor of, 46, 67; in 
Lafayette Square, proposed, 60; 
LEnfant and, 17; McMillan 
plan and, 1 83-1 84; 
reconstruction of, 44, 66; 
terraces with, 1, 22-23, 45; 


War of 1812 and, 31 . See also 
Agriculture, Commerce, Interior, 
Justice, Labor, Navy, State, 

Treasury, or War Building 
Executive Office Building. See West 
Wing 

Executive Precinct, 298 
expenditures: on Downing plan, 82, 
84, 86, 95, 98; on Ellipse, 98; on 
Executive Office Building expansion, 
263 ; on fountain maintenance, 
348-349; on Lafayette Square, 59, 
60; on Olmsted plan, 250-253; on 
Warnecke plan, 311 


F 

Faehtz, E. F. M., 33 
Falgui&re, Joseph, 145 
Farrand, Beatrix, 177, 191-192, 212, 
213, 222, 223, 263, 300 
Federal Hall, NY, and L'Enfant plan, 1 6 
Federal Triangle, Roosevelt (FD) tenure, 
269 

Federal Works Agency, 265 
feeling, and integrity, 489, 491 
fences: 1818-183 3, 60; 1851-1865, 

77, 87, 104, 105; Adams (JQ) 
tenure, 48; anthemion, 44, 66; 
Arthur tenure, 132; Bulfinch plan 
and, 59; Cleveland tenure, 133, 137, 
138, 144, 146, 157; Coolidge 
tenure, 196, 199, 210, 235; Fillmore 
tenure, 94, 95; Ford tenure, 338; 
Grant tenure, 121, 126, 127, 140, 
141, 155, 157; Hayes tenure, 131, 
142; historiographic analysis of, 
recommendations for, 505; Hoover 
tenure, 242; Hyde de Neuville 
watercolor of, 46, 67; Jackson 
tenure, 50, 52; Jefferson tenure, 14, 
22; Johnson (A) tenure, 123, 157; 
Johnson (LB) tenure, 305-306, 306, 
331; Kennedy tenure, 303, 305, 

315; Lincoln tenure, 93, 102; 
McKinley tenure, 139, 140, 146; 
Monroe tenure, 45, 66; Nixon 
tenure, 311, 337; Pierce tenure, 89, 
96; Polk tenure, 56; Roosevelt (FD) 
tenure, 249, 259, 284; Roosevelt (T) 
tenure, 185, 188, 201, 205-206; 


531 

General Index 



Taft tenure, 190; today, 363, 
373, 374, 376, 377, 380, 382, 
383, 386, 395, 432 ; Truman 
tenure, 263; Wilson tenure, 

194 

fermeornee, 23 
Ferry Farm, 242, 275 
Fifteenth Street, 62, 212; 
proposed square at, 298; 
Roosevelt (FD) tenure, 266; 
today, 390, 394, 397, 449 
filling: Grant tenure, 147; Hayes 
tenure, 148-149; Roosevelt 
(FD) tenure, 249 
Fillmore, Millard, 57, 81, 82-83, 
83, 85, 86, 99 

Finnan, C. Marshall, 239, 246, 
253, 254 

fireproof construction, 43-44, 64, 
124 

First Division Monument, 1 76, 
208, 209, 213, 272, 295, 315; 
addition to, 298, 312; today, 
391, 397-399, 460 
first families: and integrity of 
White House and President's 
Park, 490-493; and 
significance of White House 
and President's Park, 466—467, 
476, 504 

First Lady's garden. See East 
Garden; Jacqueline Kennedy 
Garden 

Fish, Hamilton, 156 
flag, NLxon tenure, 336 
Flagg, Charles Adam, 153 
Flagg, Ernest, 269 
flagpole. Grant tenure, 127 
Florence, as model for L'Enfant 
plan, 469 

Fontainebleau, 180 
forcing house. Grant tenure, 126 
Ford, Betty, 338, 364 
Ford, Gerald, 337, 338, 370 
fountains: Boy Scout Memorial, 
350; Butt-Millet, 1 76, 207, 

208, 213, 336, 350, 393, 453; 
east, 123, 157, 249, 381, 435; 
on Ellipse, 312, 313; Grant 
tenure, 129; Haupt, 205, 298, 
313, 315, 336, 350, 391, 393, 


454; Hayes tenure, 129, 131, 132; 
Henraux-Becker, 348-349; in 
Lafayette Park, 310, 348; Nixon 
tenure, 336, 352; on President's 
Patio, 341, 369, 421; Roosevelt (FD) 
tenure, 248; Roosevelt (T) tenure, 
189; at Treasury Building, 271; 
Truman tenure, 263; Van Buren 
tenure, 55; Zailes-Saul, 313, 348- 
349. See also drinking fountains; 
north fountain; south fountain 
Frankfurt am Main: as model for 
L’Enfant plan, 1 6, 469; as model for 
McMillan plan, 1 80 
Franklin Square, 51, 83 
Fraser, James Earle, 210, 268, 271, 

273 

French, Benjamin B., 77, 88-89, 90, 
93, 98, 101, 102, 103, 110 , 123, 
124 

French, Daniel Chester, 190, 207, 209, 
398 

French, William Merchant, 148 
Frick Museum, 302 
fungal blight, 344 

G 

Gallagher, Percival, 180 
Gallatin, Albert, 375 
Gallatin statue, 271, 273, 374, 429 
gardeners: Bizet, 4 7, 58; Brown, 128, 
132, 133, 136; Downing on, 87; 
Henlock, 1 92, 1 94; and integrity of 
landscape, 487; Maher, 51, 52, 54, 
56, 89, 92; McKericher, 124; 
McLeod, 124; Nokes, 93, 130; 
Ousley, 48, 49, 51, 54, 56, 88; 
Patten, 195; Pfister, 130, 132-133, 
134, 138, 139, 186; Redmond, 260, 
263-264; Reeves, 189, 251; 
Roosevelt (FD) tenure, 248; salary 
of, 53, 58, 89; Sutter, 92; Thornton, 
21; Watt, 88, 92, 101; Whelan, 51 
gardens: Adams (Abigail) and, 21; 
Adams (JQ) tenure, 48, 49; in 
Andrews engraving, 54, 69; 
Buchanan tenure, 92; colonial, 188, 
1 89, 1 91 , 1 94, 21 2, 21 9, 220, 222, 
223 ; Downing on, 87; Jackson 
tenure, 5 1 ; Jefferson tenure, 25 ; 



Johnston on, 135-136; Kew, 

80; Lincoln tenure, 94; 
Luxembourg, 180; Madison 
tenure, 27; on Mall, 55; 

Monroe tenure, 47; National 
Botanic Garden, 82, 182, 269; 
Olmsted plan and, 257-259, 
280, 475; Pierce tenure, 89; 

Polk tenure, 56; roof, 187; 
Roosevelt (T) tenure, 1 75, 185, 
186-187, 187, 188, 189, 212, 
21 9, 220; rose, at Treasury 
Building, 218, 271, 273; Royal 
Horticultural, 80; Taft tenure, 
191 ; on Treasury grounds, 

155, 1 71; Trollope on, 97; 
Tuileries, 180; vegetable, 21, 

48, 49, 51, 56; at Washington 
Monument, proposed, 182; 
Wilson tenure, 176, 191, 193, 

1 94, 222, 223. See also 
Children's Garden; East Garden; 
Jacqueline Kennedy Garden; 
Rose Garden; West Garden 
Garfield, James A., 122, 132 
Garfield, Lucretia, 132 
Gartside, Frank T., 239, 299 
gatehouses: Downing plan and, 
85; Hayes tenure, 122, 149, 
157, 267; Jefferson tenure, 23, 
38; Roosevelt (FD) tenure, 268; 
today, 391, 393-394, 457 
gate piers: Cleveland tenure, 152; 
Jackson tenure, 52; Roosevelt 
(FD) tenure, 249, 268; TTuman 
tenure, 263, 272 

gateposts: Bulfinch, 149; Harding 
tenure, 195-196; today, 364, 
380, 383, 394 
gates: 1969-1994, 336; 

Buchanan tenure, 92; 
ceremonial use of, 506; 
Cleveland tenure, 136, 155; 
Coolidge tenure, 197; Downing 
plan and, 78, 85, 88, 104; 
Fillmore tenure, 88; Grant 
tenure, 127; Hayes tenure, 

131; Hedl and, 45; Hoban and, 
45, 46; Hyde de Neuville 
drawing of, 40; Hyde de 
Neuville watercolor of, 46, 67; 


Jackson tenure, 52, 53; Jefferson 
tenure, 24, 25; Johnson (A) tenure, 
123; Johnson (LB) tenure, 306; 
Kennedy tenure, 305; Lincoln 
tenure, 103-104; Monroe tenure, 

45; Nixon tenure, 337; Olmsted 
plan and, 259; Pierce tenure, 97; 

Polk tenure, 56; Reagan tenure, 342; 
Roosevelt (FD) tenure, 249; 

Roosevelt (T) tenure, 185, 187; 
Schreiner sketch of, 155, 169; today, 
364, 365, 371, 376, 378, 380, 383; 
Wilson tenure, 194 
General Services Administration, and 
Lafayette Square redevelopment, 
308, 309 

Genius of Architecture statue, 205 
Genius of Music statue, 205 
Genoa, as model for L! Enfant plan, 469 
Geographic Information System, and 
historiography, 505 
Georgetown, 15, 16, 33 
George VI, king of Great Britain, 
commemorative tree for, 260, 300, 
318 

Gettysburg Memorial Association, 

144, 157 

Gilbert, Cass, 177, 178, 184, 190, 

203, 209, 213, 308, 398 
Gilbert, Cass, Jr., 312, 398 
Gillen, Francis F., 239 
Girl Scouts, Connecticut, 260 
Gorham Manufacturing Company, 

208 

Grand Army of the Republic, 151 
Grant, Julia, 125 
Grant, Ulysses S., 57, 121, 155 
Grant, Ulysses S. Ill, 175, 196, 197, 
239, 242, 268 
grape arbor, 305, 329 
grapery, Grant tenure, 125 
Great Depression, 241, 244 
Greater Boston Youth Symphony 
Orchestra, 304 

greenhouses: of Botanic Garden, 182; 
Buchanan tenure, 91, 104; 

Cleveland tenure, 133, 137; Grant 
tenure, 121, 127, 128; Harrison (B) 
tenure, 135, 136; McKinley tenure, 
138, 139, 140, 163; PBA report on, 
262; Pierce tenure, 89; Roosevelt 


533 

General Index 



(FD) tenure, 269; Roosevelt (T) 
tenure, 1 75, 176, 185, 186, 
188; of Treasury Department, 
153, 1 57. See also 
conservatories; hothouse; 
orangery 

Greenwich, as model for L'Enfant 
plan, 470, 476, 482 
Gropius, Walter, 309 
guardhouses: and integrity, 500; 
Johnson (LB) tenure, 305; 
planned, 330; Reagan tenure, 
341-342; today, 364-365, 

367, 370, 373, 376, 378, 381, 
383 ,411 

Guerin, Jules, 186 
Gugler, Eric, 240, 243, 248, 249, 
254, 263, 273 

gun carriages: Grant tenure, 141; 
Roosevelt (T) tenure, 200. See 
also cannon 

guns, trophy, 378. See also 
cannon 

gutters: Arthur tenure, 143, 149, 
150; Cleveland tenure, 137; 
Coolidge tenure, 196; Harrison 
(B) tenure, 136; Hayes tenure, 
142; McKinley tenure, 153; 
laft tenure, 201; today, 375, 
394 

H 

Hadfield, George, 30, 31 
Hadrian's Villa, 180 
Hamar, Fernand, 200 
Hamburg, 16, 33 
Hamilton, Alexander, and capital 
site selection, 1 4 
Hamilton Place, 104, 342; 
proposed closing of, 350; 
today, 397 

Hamilton statue, 176, 210, 268, 
374, 375, 430 
Hampton Court, 1 79 
Haney, Dale, 26, 52 
Harding, Florence Kling, 177, 
194-195 

Harding, George, 241 
Harding, Warren G., 177, 194- 
195, 247, 381 


Harewood, 124, 125 
Harrison, Benjamin, 134, 364 
Harrison, Caroline, 134 
Harrison, William Henry, 55, 134 
Harts, William W., 1 75, 191, 1 92, 

193, 208 

Hastings, Thomas, 190, 207 
Flatfield, 1 79 

Haupt, Enid Annenberg, 313, 393 
Haupt fountains, 205, 298, 313, 315, 
336; Bush (GIIW) tenure, 350; 
today, 391, 39 3,454 
Hay, John, 184, 203 
Hay-Adams Hotel, 203 
Hay-Adams house, 1 84, 203 
Hayes, Lucy Webb, 122, 130, 157 
Hayes, Rutherford B., 122, 129, 130, 
157, 474 

heads of state, and significance of 
White House and President’s Park, 
467 

health issues, 62, 93, 99-100, 122 
hedges: Coolidge tenure, 198, 209; 
historiographic analysis of, 
recommendations for, 505; Hoover 
tenure, 242; Olmsted report on, 

256; Reagan tenure, 341; Roosevelt 
(FD) tenure, 248, 252-253, 254, 
271; Roosevelt (T) tenure, 188, 200; 
Taft tenure, 190, 191; today, 367, 
369, 385, 386, 398; Truman tenure, 
300; Wilson tenure, 191, 192, 193 
Hedl, Paulus, 43, 45, 66, 337 
Ilegemann, Werner, 1 84 
Heine, Cornelius H., 307 
helicopter accommodation: 

Eisenhower tenure, 301 ; Kennedy 
tenure, 303; today, 367, 374 
Henlock, Charles, 1 92, 1 94 
Henraux-Becker fountain, 313, 348 
Henry, Catherine, 393 
Henry, Joseph, 80-81, 83, 103 
Heriot, George, 28, 41 
Hermitage, 50 
Highland Nurseries, 79 
Hill, Archibald A., 228 
historical integrity. See integrity 
Historic American Engineering Survey 
Marker, 393, 455 
historic materials, database of, 
recommendations for, 505 




historic preservation: Johnson 
(Lady Bird) and, 305; and 
Lafayette Square, 307-310; 
standards for, 310; VVarnecke 
plan and, 316 

historic site, definition of, 487 
historic vernacular landscape, 
definition of, 487 
Hoban, James, 21, 31; and 
executive office buildings, 30, 
63; and Jefferson, 22; and 
reconstruction of White House, 
44-46 

Hoffman, naturalist, 255 
Hoover, Herbert, 241, 266, 269, 
297, 370, 373 
Hoover, Lou, 199, 242, 275 
horseshoe facilities: Bush (GHW) 
tenure, 344, 358; on Ellipse, 
391; Truman tenure, 301, 315 
horticultural management, 
sustainable approach to, 507 
hothouse, Jackson tenure, 52. See 
also conservatories; 
greenhouses; orangery 
Howard, Clarence E., 248, 250, 
251, 252 , 278 

H Street, 212; McMillan plan and, 
183; Reagan tenure, 348; 
today, 388; Wilson tenure, 203 
Hubbard, Henry Vincent, 250, 
253, 254, 255, 270 
Hutchinson and Wickersham, 

104 

huts, for workers, 2 1 
Hyde de Neuville, Anne- 

Marguerite, baroness: drawing 
of President's House, 27, 40; 
painting of President's House, 
46; watercolor of President's 
House, 46, 63, 67 
Hyde Park, London, 179 
Hyde Park, New York, 257 

I 

illuminations: Nixon tenure, 336, 
352; today, 365, 385. See also 
lighting 

inaugural parades, viewing 
stands for, 210, 234 




integrity of White House and 

President's Park, 504; criteria for, 
489; evaluation of, 487-501 
Interior Department, 242, 304; 

establishment of, 43 
Interior Department Building, 269 
international significance, 504 
Irving, Washington, 54 


J 

Jackson, Andrew, 43, 44, 47, 50, 51, 
64, 65-66, 124, 507 
Jackson, Henry, 303 
Jackson Place, 58, 298, 308, 309, 310, 
315; McMillan plan and, 183; 
Reagan tenure, 348; today, 388 
Jackson statue, 60, 78, 104-105, 119, 
140, 144, 145, 265; base for, 95, 

96; Johnson (LB) tenure, 311; 
location of, 143, 202, 307, 497; 
Roosevelt (T) tenure, 201 ; today, 
386, 439 

Jacqueline Kennedy Garden, 264, 367- 
368, 419; Carter tenure, 339; 
Clinton tenure, 345-346, 352; 
dedication of, 297, 305, 329, 367- 
368; Reagan tenure, 339-340, 352. 
See also East Garden 
Jaegers, Albert, 201 
J and B Construction Company, 314 
Jefferson, Thomas, 27, 48, 270; and 
capital site, 15, 466-467; 
commemorative trees for, 260, 273, 
287; and design of President's 
House, 2 1 ; Kennedy and, 302; and 
Lafayette Square, 29, 496; and 
landscape, 13, 14; and L'Enfant, 19, 
469; plans for capital, 15, 16; plans 
for landscape, 23-25, 38; and 
President's House, 22-23; and 
terraces, 1, 22-23, 45 
Jefferson Memorial, 3, 4, 182, 270 
Jefferson mounds: 1850, 87; 1969- 
1994, 338-340, 343; in Baker 
watercolor, 49, 68; Cleveland 
tenure, 136, 137; Harrison (B) 
tenure, 135; Jackson tenure, 53; 
Jefferson tenure, 25-26, 31; 

L'Enfant plan and, 20; Lincoln 


535 

General Index 



tenure, 94; Pierce tenure, 90, 
91; today, 367 

Jefferson statue, 5 7, 66, 71, 90, 
111, 112, 128 

Jenkins Hill, L'Enfant and, 1 7 
Jensen, Lauritz, 204 
jogging track, 335, 345, 372; and 
integrity, 491, 500; today, 371 
Johnson, Andrew, 123, 124 
Johnson, Eliza McCardle, 1 24 
Johnson, Lady Bird, 297, 305, 
306, 310, 312, 315, 316, 364, 
372, 492 

Johnson, Lyndon B., 298, 305, 
310, 370, 372, 492 
Johnson, Thomas, 15 
Johnston, Prances Benjamin, ■ 
135-136, 161, 162, 224, 225 
Jones, Inigo, 46, 470 
Jones, John D., 140 
Judson, Silvia Shaw, 346, 369 
Juliana, queen of the 
Netherlands, 300 
Justice Department Building, 
design for, 269 

K 

Karlsruhe, as model for L'Enfant 
plan, 16, 469 
Kelly, James, 86, 109 
Kelly, Ellsworth, 346 
Kelsey, Albert, 206, 269 
Kennedy, Caroline, 303 
Kennedy, Jacqueline B., 297, 298, 
304, 306, 308, 309, 315, 316, 
492 

Kennedy, John E, 297, 298, 299, 
302-306, 307-308, 309, 310, 
315, 368, 370, 492 
Kent, William, 270 
Ker, Joward, 260 
Kew Gardens, 80 
King, Nicholas, 25, 37 
kiosks: Johnson (LB) tenure, 311; 

NPS, 349, 388, 497 
Kirkpatrick, Malcolm, 243, 251, 
252, 253 

Kitson, Theo Alice Ruggles, 204 
Kiwanis Club, 375 
Klingle Parkway, 245 


Koehler, Hans, 246, 249, 250, 251, 

252 

Kollner, Augustus, 71 
Koonce, Norman, 345 
Kosciuszko statue, 176, 201, 204, 

213, 387, 443 

K Street, tunnel, proposal for, 307 
Kvalsvik, Erik, 357 

L 

Labor Department Building, design for, 
269 

Lachaise, Gaston, 346 
Ladies' Association, 204 
Lafayette, marquis de, 15, 59 
Lafayette Park: 1815-1850,58-61; 
1865-1901, 121, 140-146, 157; 
1901-1929, 1 76, 200-204, 213, 
228; 1929-1948, 240, 264-266, 
273, 289, 290, 291; 1948-1969, 

299, 307-311, 315, 316; 1969- 
1994, 347-348; adaptation of, 492- 
493; Bulfinch plan for, 43; 

Christmas tree in, 266; 
demonstrations in, 311, 316, 384- 
385, 438; Downing plan and, 77, 

78, 83, 84, 94-95, 94-98, 104-105, 
108, 114; Hyde de Neuville 
watercolor of, 46, 67; integrity of, 
491, 496-498; L'Enfant plan and, 
494; McKinley tenure, 138; 
McMillan plan and, 1 83-1 84; moral 
character of, 204, 213; as national 
historic landmark, 3; 
planning/early years, 28-29; plan 
of, 200, 227; property around, 
purchase of, 266; relationship with 
other units, 2; renovation of, 298; 
significance of, 465; Stewart plan 
of, 142, 165; term, 307-308; today, 
384-389, 405, 407, 416, 438; Vaile 
painting of, 59, 73; Warneckeplan 
and, 307-311, 315 
Lafayette Square. See Lafayette Park 
Lafayette Square Historic District, 463 
Lafayette statue, 143, 145, 157; today, 
386 , 440 

lampposts: Bacon-style, 177, 195, 
365-366, 377, 379, 395, 413; 
Columbian Family, 266, 366, 415; 



Grant tenure, 122; Millet, 177, 
195, 350, 366, 371, 374, 377, 
379, 382, 384, 395, 397, 414 ; 
Saratoga-style, 389, 447; 
today, 379, 382, 395 
landscape: development of, 31; 
elements of, 2; historiographic 
analysis of, recommendations 
for, 506; history of, Olmsted 
plan and, 244; Hyde de 
Neuville watercolor of, 46, 67; 
Jefferson plans for, 23-25, 38; 
L'Enfant and, 17; Olmsted 
report on, 256, 258; Roosevelt 
(I D) and, 23 9-240; urban 
setting and, 3 

landscape design: East Executive 
Park, 380-381; Ellipse, 391- 
393; First Division Monument, 
398; Lafayette Park, 385-386; 
lower south lawn, 372-373; 
north lawn, 363-364; Old 
Executive Office Building 
grounds, 378; qualifications 
for, 81; Sherman Plaza, 396; 
and significance of White 
House and President's Park, 
467-476; Treasury Building 
grounds, 375; upper south 
lawn, 367-372; West Executive 
Avenue, 383 
Lane, Samuel, 43, 58 
Langdon, James G., 180 
Latrobe, Benjamin Henry, 22, 31, 
506; and canal, 30, 41; Decatur 
house, 58, 73; drawing of 
Jefferson plans, 23-24, 38; 
Jefferson and, 466-467; and 
Jefferson mounds, 25-26; and 
plan, 13-14; and 
reconstruction, 44; St. John's 
Church, 58, 72; and Treasury 
vault, 3 1 ; watercolor of 
President's House, 27, 39 
lawns: Arthur tenure, 143; 
Cleveland tenure, 144, 145, 

150; Clinton tenure, 347; 
Coolidge tenure, 196; Downing 
plan and, 95; Ellipse, 391; 
Grant tenure, 126, 127, 142; 
Harrison (B) tenure, 135, 136; 


Hayes tenure, 122, 142, 149; 

Hoover tenure, 200; Jackson tenure, 
52, 53; Jefferson tenure, 24; 
Kennedy tenure, 303-304; north, 
127, 200, 363-366, 409, 412; 
Olmsted report on, 257; Pierce 
tenure, 97; Polk tenure, 56; 

Roosevelt (T) tenure, 200, 205; 
today, 363-366, 409, 412; Van 
Buren tenure, 54; west, today, 363. 
See also south lawn 
Lehman, Donald J., 237 
L'Enfant, Marie Charlotte Lullier, 1 5 
L'Enfant, Pierre, 15 
L'Enfant, Pierre Charles, 13, 31; 
background of, 15-16; Bingham 
and, 178; dismissal of, 19; 
memoranda to Washington, 1 7-1 8; 
Olmsted and, 212; payment to, 19; 
and survey, 1 5 

L'Enfant plan, 13-42, 31; and 

components of President's Park, 1 ; 
and Downing plan, 77, 86, 495; 
engraving of, 18-19; facsimile copy 
of, 18, 34; features of, 13; and 
grounds, 20; and integrity of White 
House and President's Park, 493- 
496, 501; versus Jefferson plan, 16; 
Johnson (LB) and, 304; for 
Lafayette Square, 28; and McMillan 
plan, 212; Michler and, 122, 125; 
and Olmsted plan, 31, 495; and 
Pennsylvania Avenue plan, 304; 
presentation to Washington, 18; 
versus retrospective map, 16, 33; 
and significance of White House and 
President's Park, 465, 468-472, 

476; and site, 2; sources for, 16, 
468-472; survivals of, 493-494 
Le Notre, Andre, 1 79-180, 182, 469, 
471 

Liberty Bell replica, 314, 374 
lighting: 1815-1850, 44, 66; 1865- 
1870, 154-155; 1969-1994, 336, 
353; Buchanan tenure, 92; Bush 
(GHW) tenure, 350; Cleveland 
tenure, 133, 144, 145, 146, 150, 
152; Coolidge tenure, 195, 204; 
Downing plan and, 78; Fillmore 
tenure, 57; Grant tenure, 122, 126, 
140; Harrison (B) tenure, 151; 



historiographic analysis of, 
recommendations for, 505; 
Hyde de Neuville watercolor of, 
47, 67; Jackson tenure, 50; 
Johnson (LB) tenure, 314; 
McKinley tenure, 138-139; 
Monroe tenure, 47; Nixon 
tenure, 33 6, 352; Pierce tenure, 
96-97, 105; Polk tenure, 57, 
71; Reagan tenure, 336, 342, 
343, 347, 350; Roosevelt (FD) 
tenure, 243, 248, 265, 266, 
276; Roosevelt (T) tenure, 185; 
Taft tenure, 201; today, 364, 
365-366, 370, 371, 374, 377, 
379, 386, 413; Truman tenure, 
307; Washington Globe, 177, 
195; Wilson tenure, 193, 194 
light well, Roosevelt (FD) tenure, 
243, 276 

Lincoln, Abraham, 92-93, 122, 
506, 507 

Lincoln, Mary Todd, 94 
Lincoln, Willie, 94 
Lincoln Memorial, 175, 181, 
182-183, 190 
litter containers. See trash 
receptacles 

Livingston, Goodhue, 206 
location, and integrity, 489, 491, 
497 

Locke, E. P., Jr., 246, 251, 254 
locks, on Washington canal, 42 
lodge, watchman's, Lafayette 
Park: Arthur tenure, 143; 
Cleveland tenure, 144, 146, 
151, 157; Coolidge tenure, 

204; Grant tenure, 141; Hayes 
tenure, 142; Hoover tenure, 
264; Nixon tenure, 336, 347; 
Roosevelt (T) tenure, 200, 201; 
Taft tenure, 201; today, 388, 
446; Wilson tenure, 202, 229 
London: as model for L' Enfant 
plan, 469, 470-471, 476, 481, 
482, 483; as model for 
McMillan plan, 179 
Longworth, Al ice Roosevelt, 177, 
187, 189, 212 

Louis De Francheschi and Sons, 
211 


Lovie, Henry, 1 73 
Lower Brandon plantation, 179 
Luxembourg Gardens, 180 
Lyons, as model for L'Enfant plan, 1 6, 
469 

M 

Macaroni, pony, 303 
MacArthur, Douglas, and urns, 211, 
237 

Mackenzie, Peter, 89 
MacVeagh, Franklin, 210 
Madison, Dolley, 44; house of, 308 
Madison, James, 13, 27-28, 43, 44 
Madison Place, 184, 203, 212, 298, 
308, 309, 315; Reagan tenure, 348; 
today, 388 

Madrid, as model for L'Enfant plan, 

469 

Magill, P M., 98 
magnolia patio, 369, 371 
Maher, Jemmy, 51, 52, 54, 56, 89, 92 
maintenance buildings: Ford tenure, 
338; Kennedy tenure, 303, 304, 

315; Nixon tenure, 337; Reagan 
tenure, 340, 352; today, 373, 427; 
Truman tenure, 299 
malls: London, 471; pedestrian, 

Reagan tenure, 335, 342, 352. See 
also National Mall 
Manship, Paul, 346 
Map of Dotted Lines, 1 7 
Marine Band concerts, 44, 55, 78, 94, 
124, 131, 135, 139, 157, 176-177, 
189, 213, 336, 353; Easter, 197, 
205; Taft tenure, 207; Wilson 
tenure, 193 

Marseilles, as model for L'Enfant plan, 
16, 469 

Maryland, and capital site selection, 1 4 
materials, and integrity, 489 
McCarthy, Eugene, 309 
McClelland, Robert, 91 
McKee, Benjamin Harrison, 135 
McKee, Mary Lodge, 135 
McKericher, Alexander, 124 
McKim, Charles Pollen, 177, 178, 179, 
180, 181, 182, 186, 190, 213, 216, 
474; and McMillan plan, 212; 




Olmsted on, 198-199; and 
White House reconstruction, 
185 

McKinley, Ida, 138 
McKinley, William, 138, 139 
McLeod, George, 124 
McMillan, James, 139, 179, 180, 
181 


McMillan plan, 175-237; 
background of, 1 77-1 79; 
development of, 179-181; 
elements of, 182-184, 215; 
models of, 180-181; Olmsted 
and, 474; Pennsylvania Avenue 
plan and, 298; and President's 
Park, 269 

Mead, William Rutherford, 185, 


216 

media equipment, today, 365 
Mellon, Paul, 310 
Mellon, Rachel Lambert, 311, 

316, 368, 492; and beeches, 
339; and gardens, 297, 302- 
303, 305, 339; and Lafayette 
Park, 310, 311 
Memorial Bridge, 1 75 
memoriatization: 1901-1929, 

176; Ellipse, today, 392-393; 
First Division Monument, 
today, 398; Lafayette Park, 
today, 386-388; Old Executive 
Office Building grounds, today, 
378; Sherman Plaza, today, 
396; Treasury Building 
grounds, today, 375. See also 
commemorative trees 
Mercie, Marius Jean Antonin, 1 45 
Merwin, Charles M., 307 
Mesrobian, Mihran, 203 
Mexican War, 64-65 
Meyers, William E., Mr. and Mrs., 
348 


Michler, Nathaniel, 121, 122, 
124, 125, 126, 140, 146-147, 
493 


Middlebury College, 209 
Milan, as model for L' Enfant plan, 
16,469 


milk troughs, 50, 371 
Millet, Francis Davis, 190, 207, 
393 


Millet lampposts, 177, 195, 350, 366, 
371, 374, 377, 379, 382, 384, 395, 
397, 414 

Mills, Clark, 96, IJ9, 144 
Mills, Robert, 38, 43-44, 51, 66, 103; 
and executive office buildings, 63- 
64, 65; and Lafayette Square, 60; 
and lighting, 57; plan for Mall, 43, 
55-56 

Monroe, James, 43, 45, 47, 63; and 
Bulfinch, 46 

Montpelier, as model for L'Enfant plan, 
469 

Moore, Arthur Cotton, 351 
Moore, Charles, 1 76, 179, 180, 181, 
182, 186, 199, 248, 265; and 
Commission of Fine Arts, 1 90; and 
McMillan plan, 212; and Olmsted 
plan, 246 

Morgenthau, Henry, Jr., 271 
Mose, Carl, 268, 273 
mounds: 1969-1994, 338-340, 343; 
in Baker watercolor, 49, 68; 
Cleveland tenure, 136, 137; at First 
Division Monument, 209; Harrison 
(B) tenure, 135; Jackson tenure, 53; 
Jefferson tenure, 25-26, 31; 

L'Enfant plan and, 20; Lincoln 
tenure, 94; Pierce tenure, 90, 91; 
Taylor tenure, 87; today, 367 
Mount Vernon, 53, 124, 186, 247, 

301 

mowing, Buchanan tenure, 92 
Mudd, Ignatius, 43, 57, 62-63, 77, 

80, 81, 94 

Mullett, Alfred B., 123, 155, 156, 158, 
185 


N 

Nancy, France, as model for L'Enfant 
plan, 469, 470, 480 
Naples, as model for L'Enfant plan, 

469 

Nash, John, 82 

National Botanic Garden, 82, 182, 269 
National Capital Parks, 299 
National Capital Parks and Planning 
Commission, Olmsted and, 245, 

250 


539 

General Index 



National Capital Planning 
Commission, 199, 311; 
establishment of, 297; and 
Haupt fountains, 313; and 
renovation of Lafayette Park, 
311; Year 2000 plan, 304 
National Christmas Tree: 1969- 
1994, 336, 348; Coolidge 
tenure, 209; Eisenhower 
tenure, 298, 312, 315; Hoover 
tenure, 266; Roosevelt (FD) 
tenure, 260-261; today, 3 90- 
391,391 ,450 

National Council of the League of 
Women Voters, Kennedy and, 
327 

National Historic Preservation Act 
of 1966, 307, 310 
National Institution for the 
Promotion of Science, 55 
National Mall, 3, 4; Downing 
and, 83, 85; McMillan plan 
and, 175, 182; Mills design for, 

43, 55-56; Olmsted and, 245; 
Roosevelt (FD) tenure, 269; 
SOM plan and, 299 

National Park Service: 

administration by, 239, 242; 
and Bulfinch gatehouses, 268; 
and Downing plan, 240; 
Kennedy tenure, 302; kiosk, 
349, 388, 497; and Lafayette 
Phrk, 240, 273, 497; and 
Olmsted plan, 244, 246, 248, 
250-251, 253, 258, 259, 474; 
and President's Park, 3; and 
Saul plaque, 349; and 
Seventeenth Street, 267; and 
Sherman Plaza rehabilitation, 
350; and Sherman statue floor, 
349; and visitor pavilion, 394 
National Register of Historic 
Places, 3, 463, 504; criteria for, 
463-464 

National Zoological Park, 245 
native species: Adams (JQ) and, 

44, 48; recommendations for, 
507 

Navy Building, 63, 67; 1815- 
1850, 64-65; construction of, 


43; proposed new version of, 65, 74 
Navy Building grounds, 1851-1865, 
104, 105, 120 

Navy Department, Navy Historical 
Center, Washington Navy Yard, 351 
Neubert, George W., 346 
Nevelson, Louise, 346 
Newell, Gordon, 313, 393 
New York, NY, Old City Hall, L'Enfant 
and, 16 

New York Avenue: Ellicott plan on, 19; 
Latrobe and, 25; L'Enfant plan and, 
494-495; Wilson tenure, 208 
Nicholson, Francis, 471 
nineteenth-century romanticism: and 
integrity, 491, 496-498, 501; and 
significance, 472-474, 504 
Nixon, Pat, 335, 336, 339, 352, 364 
Nixon, Richard M., 336-337, 348-349 
Nixon, Tricia, 33 7 
Nokes, James, 93, 130 
Noland, William, 43, 61 
Norcross, O. W., 185 
North, William, 387 
north fountain: Arthur tenure, 132; 
Coolidge tenure, 199; Grant tenure, 
128, 155, 158, 160, 170; McKinley 
tenure, 139, 164; relationship with 
other units, 2; today, 365 ,410 
north portico: Buchanan tenure, 92; 
ceremonial use of, 506; construction 
of, 50; Lincoln tenure, 94; Pierce 
tenure, 90, 112; plans for, 44, 45 
Notman, John, 64 
Nugent, Patrick, 306 

o 

Octagon House, 44 
Oehrlein (Mary) and Associates, 351, 
394 

Office of Public Buildings and 

Grounds, 124, 211 ; on grounds of 
State, War, and Navy Building, 156. 
See also United States Army Corps 
of Engineers 

Office of Public Buildings and Public 
Parks of the National Capital, 1 75, 
196, 239; divisions of, 196 
Office of the Chief Usher, White 
House, 302 



Office of the Commissioner of 
Public Buildings, .43 
Office of White House liaison, 
recommendations for, 504-505 
Ogle, Charles, 54-55 
Ohio State Archaeological and 
Historical Society, 197 
Old Dominion Foundation, 310 
Old Executive Office Building, 

167, 173, 351; 1865-1901, 

121, 126, 158; architectural 
integrity of, 490; Cleveland 
tenure, 136; construction of, 
1-2, 147, 149, 151; Kennedy 
tenure, 309; setting of, 2; 
significance of, 463; today, 

405, 407 ; Truman tenure, 262 
Old Executive Office Building 
grounds: 1865-1901, 156, 

158; 1901-1929, 176, 211- 
212, 236, 237 ; 1929-1948, 
272, 273, 295; 1969-1994, 
351-352; today, 377-379, 431 
Olmsted, Frederick Law, Jr., 1 77, 
179, 180, 182, 186, 197, 198- 
199, 212, 213, 248, 249, 251, 
254, 255, 273, 297; biography 
of, 244-245; and Commission 
of Fine Arts, 1 90; and integrity 
of White House and President's 
Park, 499-500, 501; and 
Jackson statue, 202; and 
L'Enfant plan, 31, 495; 
photographs by, 279, 282, 284 ; 
and significance of White 
House and President's Park, 
474-476, 477, 504; and 
Washington Monument, 270; 
and Williams, 23 
Olmsted, Frederick Law, Sr., 1 77- 
178, 179, 244, 472, 474 
Olmsted, John Charles, 244, 245, 
474 

Olmsted, Mary Cleveland Perkins, 
244 

Olmsted Brothers, 216, 217, 244- 
245, 474; contract with, 253 
Olmsted plan, 239-295, 244- 
264, 258, 280-283; concept of, 
239, 272; continued viability 
of, 475; funding for, 250-252, 


253; grounds survey for, 246-247, 
277; and integrity of White House 
and President's Park, 499-500, 501; 
origins of, 198-199; and 
significance of White House and 
President's Park, 474-476, 477, 

504; survivals of, 468, 475, 499 
Olmsted Report, 240, 243, 250, 251, 
255-258, 267, 474-475; Kennedy 
tenure, 297, 303; management 
recommendations of, 7; Truman 
tenure, 301, 315 

orangery: Jackson tenure, 53; Pierce 
tenure, 89; Van Buren tenure, 54. 

See also conservatories; greenhouses; 
hothouse 

Organization of American States 
Building, 206, 269, 390 
Orleans, as model for L'Enfant plan, 

16, 469 

Ousley, John, 48, 49, 51, 54, 56, 88 

Oval Office, 189, 243 

Owen, Frederick D., 134, 139, 178, 

179 

Owings, Nathaniel, 313 

P 

Paine, Irving, 198, 241, 300 
Painter, Michael, 310 
Palladio, Andrea, 22 
Panic of 1819, 45, 47 
Pan statue, 192, 194, 263 
Pantheon, 270 

parade: Downing plan and, 85, 98- 
1 03 . See also Ellipse 
Paris: as model for L'Enfant plan, 16, 
469, 476, 479; as model for 
McMillan plan, 1 79-1 80 
parking: Bush (GHW) tenure, 344; 
Reagan tenure, 343, 344; today, 

374, 375, 376, 377, 379, 381, 383, 
388; underground garage plan, 314, 
350 

parks, movement for, 473, 491 
Rjrsons, Samuel, Jr., 1 78 
parterres: Grant tenure, 128; Hayes 
tenure, 129-130, 130; McKinley 
tenure, 154; Roosevelt (T) tenure, 
186; today, 367 
Pass and Stow, 314 



paths. See walks and paths 
patios: Hoover tenure, 241; 
magnolia, 369, 371; 

President's, 341, 352, 369, 

371, 421, 491, 500; Reagan 
tenure, 341, 352; Truman 
tenure, 263; west (Chief of 
Staff's), 341, 352, 368, 369 
Patten, Charles Lee, 1 95 
Pauline, cow, 211 , 236 
pavilion. Ellipse, 336, 351, 360, 
394 , 458 

paving: Bush (GHW) tenure, 350; 
Johnson (LB) tenure, 310, 31 1; 
Reagan tenure, 348; today, 

368, 373, 375, 376, 378, 379, 
381, 382, 383, 394, 397. See 
also roads and drives; walks 
and paths 

Peabody, Robert S., 1 78 
Peale, Charles Willson, 27 
Peaslee, Horace, 208 
Peerce family, 20 
Peets, Elbert, 184, 203-204 
Pei, I. M., 305 
Pelz, Paul J., 139-140, 178 
Pennsylvania, and capital site 
selection, 14 

Pennsylvania Avenue: Arthur 
tenure, 122; bollards project, 
343, 353; Cleveland tenure, 

133; Downing plan and, 85, 

87; in early years, 29; Ellicott 
plan on, 19; extension of, 59; 
Fillmore tenure, 57; Grant 
tenure, 126; Harding tenure, 
195-196; Hyde de Neuville 
drawing of, 40; Johnson (LB) 
tenure, 306, 310; Latrobe and, 
25; L'Enfant and, 17, 494-495; 
McMillan plan and, 183; 

Reagan tenure, 342, 343, 351, 
353; Roosevelt (FD) tenure, 

266; today, 365, 388; Wilson 
tenure, 194, 203, 210 
Pennsylvania Avenue 

Development Corporation 
(Council): plan, 298, 299, 304- 
305, 328; and Sherman Plaza, 
350 

Pentagon, 262 


pergola: Clinton tenure, 345; today, 
367-368 

Perkins, Harry, 244 
Perry, Shaw, Hepburn, and Dean, 308 
pest control: caterpillars, 143; elm-leaf 
beetle, 138, 190, 197, 202, 241; 
rats, 93; squirrels, 336, 348, 385 
Pfister, Henry, 130, 132-133, 134, 

138, 139, 186 

Philadelphia, PA, and capital site 
selection, 14 
Piazza San Pietro, 1 80 
picnic tables, today, 373, 377, 379 
Pierce, Franklin, 62, 88 
pigeons, 385 
Pinchot, Gifford, 257 
planters: Bush (GHW) tenure, 344; 
Reagan tenure, 342; today, 369, 

373, 375, 377, 379, 382, 383, 396, 
426 

plantings, selection criteria for, 3 
plaques: Bernard Baruch Bench of 
Inspiration, 387-388, 445; 
Eisenhower oak, 370, 418; at First 
Division Monument, 398; 

Jacqueline Kennedy Garden 
dedication, 367-368; North-Walker, 
387; Old Executive Office Building, 
379; Saul, 349, 393; Webster- 
Ashburton Treaty, 375 
platform, for concerts, 139 
Platt, Charles, 153 
Platt, Charles Adams, 269 
playgrounds, on Ellipse, 152 
Plumbe, John, 56, 70 
Polish National Alliance of America, 
387 

Polk, James, 56, 62 

pond, Fillmore tenure, 99-100 

ponies, 303 

pools: Johnson (A) tenure, 123, 157; 
Johnson (LB) tenure, 305, 306, 310, 
311; Nixon tenure, 311, 315; PBA 
report on, 262; Roosevelt (FD) 
tenure, 254; today, 367, 368, 369, 
372, 385, 392; Truman tenure, 

263; Wilson tenure, 191, 193. See 
also swimming pools 
Pope, John Russell, 240, 268, 269, 

270, 273 

Popiel, Antonio, 201 




porte cochere, 336, 337 
porticoes', on executive office 
buildings, 63, 65. See also north 
portico; south portico 
Potomac Park, Marine band 
concerts in, 189 
Potomac River, 3, 15, 16, 17 
Pratt, F. W., 33 

Prellwitz, Edwin Mitchell, 255 
presidency: and integrity of 
White House and President’s 
Park, 490-493; and 
significance of White House 
and President's Park, 464-466, 
476, 504 


President’s Garden. See Rose 
Garden; West Garden 

President's House: Andrews 
engraving of, 54, 69; Baker 
watercolor of, 49, 68; burning 
of, 28; design competition for, 
21; Ellicott plan on, 19; Hyde 
de Neuville drawing of, 27, 40; 
Hyde de Neuville painting of, 
46; Hyde de Neuville 
watercolor of, 46, 67; isometric 
view of, 60, 74; L'Enfant and, 
17, 19, 20-21; McKim, Mead, 
and White plan of, 226; 

Plumbe daguerreotype of, 56, 
70; reconstruction of, 43, 44- 
46; relocation of, proposed, 

122, 124-125, 132, 157, 175, 
176, 183, 212; term, 21; 
watercolor of, 27, 39. See also 
White House 

President's Park, 1-7; 1791-1814, 
13-42; 1815-1850, 43-75; 
1865-1901, 121-173; 1901- 
1929, 175-237; 1929-1948, 
239-295; 1948-1969, 297- 
333; 1969-1994, 335-360; 
boundaries of, 3, 20; 
components of, 1, 6; 
conclusions on, 503-504; 
Downing plan and, 1851- 
1865, 77-120, 108; geographic 
and urban context of, 3-4, 9; 
integrity of, evaluation of, 
487-501 ; Keily map of, 86, 

109; L'Enfant plan and, 13, 18, 


19, 20, 36; location of, 3, 9, 14-20; 
McKinley tenure, 138; 
recommendations on 
historiography of, 504-507; setting 
of, 2-3; significance of, evaluation 
of, 463-485; term, 152; today, 
363-460, 405, 407 
President's Park South: 1 791-1814, 
29-30; 1815-1850, 61-63; 1851- 
1865, 98-103; 1865-1901, 146- 
154; 1901-1929, 204-209, 213, 
232; 1929-1948, 266-271, 288; 
1948-1969, 312-314, 315; 1969- 
1994, 348-351; Casey-Hayes plan, 
148, 1 66; Michler and, 125; 
significance of, 463; today, 390- 
399, 405, 407. See also Ellipse 
President's Patio, 341, 352, 371; and 
integrity, 491, 500; today, 369, 421 
President’s Square. See Lafayette Park 
press room, 336 
Prince Nursery, 5 1 

privacy concerns, 1, 31; 1791-1814, 
14; 1865-1901, 122; 1969-1994, 
336; and adaptation, 467; Clinton 
tenure, 345; Downing plan and, 78, 
85; Grant tenure, 125; and 
historiographic issues, 6; and 
integrity, 491; Jefferson tenure, 24; 
Kennedy tenure, 297, 299, 303; 
Lincoln tenure, 77, 92, 104; 

Olmsted report on, 256, 475; 
Roosevelt (FD) tenure, 248; 

Roosevelt (T) tenure, 185-186; 
today, 372, 373, 426 
privy, removal of, 22 
protests, in Lafayette Park, 311, 316, 
384-385, 438 
Public Buildings Act, 269 
Public Buildings Administration (PBA), 
261, 270-271, 294 
public use: 1865-1901, 122; 1948- 
1969, 316; documentation of, 506- 
507; Downing plan and, 78; Grant 
tenure, 141; Pierce/Buchanan 
tenures, 89; Polk tenure, 61 
Public Works Administration, 25 1 , 

253 

Pugol, Paul, 145 

putting green: Bush (GHW) tenure, 
344; Eisenhower tenure, 301, 315, 


543 

General Index 



326; Nixon tenure, 335, 336; 
today, 370 

R 

racetrack, 29 

railings: anthemion, 50, 72, 72, 
88, 112, 118, 223, 127, 164, 
185; Cleveland tenure, 144; on 
Ellipse, 61; Fillmore tenure, 95; 
Hayes tenure, 122; Hoban and, 
45, 46; Jackson tenure, 51-52, 
53; Lafayette Square, 60-61; 
Lincoln tenure, 103-104; Mills 
and, 60; Pierce tenure, 89, 97; 
Roosevelt (T) tenure, 200 
rats, 93 

Reagan, Nancy, 339, 364 
Reagan, Ronald, 339, 340-342, 
364, 370 

recreational facilities for 

presidents: 1901-1929, 177, 
212; 1948-1969, 299; 1969- 
1994, 335; and adaptation, 

467; basketball court, 344, 

372, 373, 427; documentation 
of, 506-507; on Ellipse, 391; 
horseshoes, 315, 344, 358; and 
integrity, 491, 500; jogging 
track, 335, 345, 371, 372; 
putting green, 301, 315, 326, 
335, 336, 344, 370; swimming 
pools, 243, 336, 337-338, 341, 
344, 352, 35 6, 357; swing, 

371; tennis court, 335, 336- 
337, 352, 372, 373; tennis 
courts, 187, 189-190, 193, 
218, 221; tree house, 335, 338; 
Truman tenure, 301, 315 
recycling bins, 395 
Redmond, Robert, 260, 263-264 
Reeves, Bill, 189, 251 
Renwick, James, 80, 182 
Renwick Gallery, 153, 309 
Repton, Humphrey, 82 
Reservation Number 1 , 20 
reservoirs, Jackson tenure, 5 1 
Residence Act, 14 
residential character, Olmsted on, 
239, 273 


restrooms: Cleveland tenure, 144; 
Grant tenure, 141; today, 373, 388, 
394; underground, 336, 347, 349, 
351 

Richardson, Henry Hobson, 184, 185, 
203 

Ridley, Clarence S., 1 75, 194 
roads and drives: 1865-1901, 123, 

157; Arthur tenure, 149; in Baker 
watercolor, 49, 50, 68; Buchanan 
tenure, 91; Cleveland tenure, 133, 

137, 150, 151, 152; Coolidge 
tenure, 196, 199; Downing plan 
and, 85, 87, 90; Fillmore tenure, 88, 
102; fire and, 28; Grant tenure, 

121, 125, 127, 147; Harding 
tenure, 195; Harrison (B) tenure, 
151; Hayes tenure, 122, 129, 131, 
149, 167; in Heriot drawing, 28; 
Jackson tenure, 50, 52, 53; 

Jefferson tenure, 25; Latrobeand, 
25-26, 27, 39; McKinley tenure, 

138, 153, 154; Monroe tenure, 47; 
Olmsted plan and, 239, 256, 258- 
259, 259, 280; Polk tenure, 60; 
Reagan tenure, 340-341, 342, 352; 
in romanticism, 472; Roosevelt (FD) 
tenure, 247, 248, 261; Roosevelt (T) 
tenure, 185, 187, 188, 189, 205; 
Taft tenure, 190, 206-207; today, 
363, 365, 371, 376, 379, 380, 381- 
382, 391, 394; Truman tenure, 263, 
300; Wilson tenure, 193, 194, 207, 
208 

Robb, Lucinda, 306 
Robeson, George M., 141 
Robinson, Moncuse, 1 25 
Rochambeau statue, 1 76, 200, 204, 
213, 386-387, 441 
Rock Creek Park, 124, 125, 245 
Rockwell, Almon F., 121, 132, 142, 

149 

Rodgers, Edmund B., 239 
Rogers, Isaiah, 64 
Rohl-Smith, Carl, 204 
Rohl-Smith, Sara, 204 
romanticism, nineteenth-century: and 
integrity, 491, 496-498, 501; and 
significance, 472-474, 504 
Rome, as model for McMillan plan, 

180 



Roosevelt, Alice, 177, 187, 189, 
212 

Roosevelt, Edith Carow, 176, 185, 
186, 187, 188, 247 
Roosevelt, Eleanor, 242, 243, 246, 
265 

Roosevelt, Franklin Delano, 195, 
239-240, 242, 243, 246, 248, 
250, 251, 25 7, 260, 265, 266- 
267, 273, 300, 364, 370, 381; 
and Jefferson Memorial, 270; 
and Olmsted report, 258, 259, 
475 

Roosevelt, Theodore, 1 75-1 76, 
176, 188, 190, 247; centennial 
of, 301 ; inauguration of, 201, 
205; and McMillan plan, 180- 
181 

Root, Elihu, 1 84 
Root, Irvin C., 239 
Rose Garden: Carter tenure, 339; 
Kennedy tenure, 297, 302-303, 
303, 327; Nixon tenure, 337; 
Reagan tenure, 339, 344, 352; 
site of, 187, 188; today, 366, 
368-369, 420. See also West 
Garden 

rose house: Cleveland tenure, 

136; Hayes tenure, 130, 131 
Rowe, Abbie, 288, 317, 318, 319, 
320, 322, 325, 326, 327, 331 
Royal Horticultural Gardens, 80 


5 


safety concerns. See security 
concerns 

Saint-Gaudens, Augustus, 1 77, 
178, 179, 181, 210 
St. John's Church, 58, 72 
St. Petersburg, as model for 
L'Enfant plan, 471, 476, 484 
sandbox, Taft tenure, 202 
Sanders, S. E., 261, 262, 270- 
271, 294 


sanitation systems and sewage: 
Cleveland tenure, 146, 152; 
Fillmore tenure, 102; Grant 
tenure, 147; Hayes tenure, 

122, 148; and health problems, 


62; McKinley tenure, 146; Tyler 
tenure, 63 

San Martin, Jose de, 206 
Saratoga-style lampposts, 389, 447 
Sargent, Henry Winthrop, 95 
Satterlee, Nicholas, 342 
Saul, Andrew, 79, 82, 89 
Saul, John, 82, 86, 88, 89, 90, 125, 
313, 349, 393 
Saunders, William, 148 
sawmill and pits, for construction of 
President's House, 21, 30 
Schreiner, M. L., sketch of Treasury 
Building, 155, 169 
Schuyler, Montgomery, 181 
Scott Circle, 389 

sculpture: Clinton tenure, 345-346, 
352, 492; today, 368 
seagulls, 385 
Sears, Thomas, 1 80 
seats: today, 365, 369, 386, 389; 
Truman tenure, 263-264. See also 
benches; settees 

Second Division Memorial, 240, 268, 
273; addition to, 298, 312, 315; 
today, 391, 392, 451 
Secret Service, U.S., 251, 261, 342- 
343 

security concerns, 1; 1791-1814, 14; 
1865-1901, 122; 1984-1994, 336, 
352, 353; and adaptation, 467; 
Clinton tenure, 346; Hayes tenure, 
130; historiographic analysis of, 
recommendations for, 507; and 
historiographic issues, 6; and 
integrity, 491; Kennedy tenure, 305; 
and Marine Band concerts, 193; 
Nixon tenure, 337; and Olmsted 
plan, 251, 499-500; Reagan tenure, 
341-343; in World War II, 240, 

261, 266 

Seeler, Edgar V., 178 
Segal, George, 346 
Senate Committee on the District of 
Columbia, 1 79 

Senate Park Commission, 1 75, 181, 
185, 204, 212, 245; and McMillan 
plan, 177 

sentry box: Jackson tenure, 52, 66; 
Roosevelt (FD) tenure, 240, 261, 
500. See also watch house 


545 

General Index 



service yard, PBA report on, 262 
Sessford, John, 49, 50, 53, 59, 

90, 95, 96, 99 
settees: Arthur tenure, 150; 
Cleveland tenure, 144; Fillmore 
tenure, 88; Grant tenure, 141; 
Hayes tenure, 142; Roosevelt 
(T) tenure, 201, 205; Van 
Buren tenure, 54. See also 
benches; seats 

setting, and integrity, 489, 491 
Seventeenth Street, 62, 390; 
McMillan plan and, 184; 
Roosevelt (FD) tenure, 267, 

273; today, 394; Wilson 
tenure, 208 

Severin (N. P) Company, 241, 

243 

sewage. See sanitation systems 
and sewage 

sheds: sheep, 194; stone, for 
construction, 149; today, 378; 
for tools, 49, 53, 141 
sheep, 193-194, 226 
Shepherd, Alexander, 57 
Shepley, Bulfinch, Richardson and 
Abbott, 308 

Sherman Plaza, 152, 205, 207, 
208, 230 ; Bush (GHW) tenure, 
350; Christmas tree on, 209, 
266; construction of, 154; 
Olmsted report on, 240; plan 
of, 231; Roosevelt (FD) tenure, 
266; today, 396-397, 405, 407, 
459 

Sherman statue, 213, 230, 231; 
casting of, 1 54; floor around, 
349-350; installation of, 153, 
176, 204-205; location of, 

152, 157, 298; today, 396, 

459; Wilson tenure, 207 
Sherrill, Clarence O., 1 75, 195, 
196 

Shirley plantation, 1 79 
Sickles, Daniel, 144, 145 
sidewalks. See walks and paths 
significance of White House and 
President's Park: criteria for, 
463-464, 504; evaluation of, 
463-485; international, 504 
Sinding, Stephen, 204 


Sioussat, Jean-Pierre, 27 
site maps, recommendations for, 505- 
506 

Sixteenth Street, 389 
Sixteenth-1/2 Street, 58. See also 
Jackson Place 

Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, 299; 
Ellipse plan, 312, 313; underground 
garage plan, 314, 350 
small buildings: construction sheds, 
149; sheep shed, 194; today, 378; 
tool shed, 49, 53, 141; worker huts, 
21; workshops, 28-29, 149 
Smith, Delos, 268 
Smith, R. Merrick, 342, 344, 345 
Smithsonian Institution, 55, 182; 

grounds of. Downing and, 83 
smokehouse, Jefferson tenure, 26 
Society for a More Beautiful Capital, 
305, 313 

Society of the Cincinnati, 1 6 
Southern states, and capital site 
selection, 14 

South Executive Avenue, 372, 423 
south fountain: Buchanan tenure, 92; 
Grant tenure, 126; Harrison (B) 
tenure, 161 ; Lincoln tenure, 93, 94, 
116; PBA report on, 262; Reagan 
tenure, 352; relationship with other 
units, 2; Roosevelt (FD) tenure, 247, 
254; today, 372, 424; Wilson 
tenure, 193 

south lawn: 1791-1814, 29-30; 
bandstand, 121, 122, 131, 157; 
Eisenhower tenure, 301 ; Hayes 
tenure, 131; Hoover tenure, 242; 
Jackson tenure, 52, 53; Lincoln 
tenure, 78, 93, 104, 116; lower, 
today, 372-374, 401, 403, 422; 
Marine Band concerts on, 44, 55, 

78, 94, 124, 131, 135, 139, 157, 
176-177, 193; Olmsted plan and, 
239; Truman tenure, 240, 261, 

300; upper, today, 366-372, 401, 
403, 41 7; Wilson tenure, 1 77, 193- 
194, 213, 226 

south portico: construction of, 46; 
Lincoln tenure, 93, 1 16, 117, J18; 
plans for, 44, 45; Roosevelt (T) 
tenure, 175, 185; Truman tenure, 
322 



Speedway Potomac Drive, 189 
sports on Ellipse, 122, 157-158, 
177, 209, 213, 266, 390, 391; 
Cleveland tenure, 152; 

Roosevelt (T) tenure, 205; 
Truman tenure, 268 
Springside, 77 
sprinkler system, 303-304 
squirrels, 336, 348, 385 
stables: 1851-1865, 77, 88; 
Arthur tenure, 132; Buchanan 
tenure, 91 ; Cleveland tenure, 
133, 137, 138, 151; Fillmore 
tenure, 88; Grant tenure, 126; 
Harrison (B) tenure, 136; 

Hayes tenure, 149, 167; 
Jackson tenure, 5 1 ; Jefferson 
tenure, 27; Johnson (A) tenure, 
93, 115; Lincoln tenure, 92-93; 
McKinley tenure, 138, 139, 
140, 153; Monroe and, 45, 51; 
removal of, 1 ; Roosevelt (T) 
tenure, 188; Taft tenure, 191, 
207, 211 

stage, on Ellipse, today, 390 
stag statue, 344, 371 
stairs. See steps 

stalls, Kennedy tenure, 303, 315. 

See also stables 
Stanton, Richard M., 99 
State, War, and Navy Building. 

See Old Executive Office 
Building 

State Building: demolition of, 

155, 156; reconstruction of, 

43, 63, 66, 67 

State Building grounds: 1815- 
1850, 63-64; 1851-1865, 
103-104 

State Department Building, 262; 
design for, 269 

statues: in Court of History, 201 ; 
eagles, 27, 39; First Division 
Monument, 176; Gallatin, 271, 
273, 374, 375, 429; Genius of 
Architecture, 205; Genius of 
Music, 205; girl with watering 
can, 346, 369; Hamilton, 176, 
210, 268, 374, 375, 430; 


Jackson, 60, 78, 95, 96, 104-105, 
119, 140, 143; 144, 145, 201, 202, 
265, 307, 386, 439, 497; Jefferson, 
57, 66, 72, 9 0, 111, 112, 128; 
Kosciuszko, 176, 201, 204, 213, 
387, 443; Lafayette, 143, 145, 157, 
386, 440; Pan, 192, 194, 263; 
restoration of, 347; Rochambeau, 
176, 200, 204, 213, 386-387, 44 1; 
Sherman, 152, 153, 154, 157, 176, 
204-205, 207, 213, 230, 231, 298, 
349-350, 396, 459; stag, 344, 371; 
today, 384; Victory, 205, 398; von 
Steuben, 176, 201, 204, 213, 387, 
442; Washington, 202, 265, 307. 
See also sculpture 
Stephenson, Richard W., 17 
steps: Coolidge tenure, 209; Grant 
tenure, 121; Jefferson tenure, 23; 
Johnson (A) tenure, 123; Reagan 
tenure, 341; Roosevelt (T) tenure, 
185; today, 365, 371, 378, 394, 
398; Truman tenure, 263 
Stevens, A. W., 295 
Stewart, John, 128, 142, 160, 165 
Stone, Edward Durrell, Jr., 299, 306, 
316, 332, 492 

Strasbourg, as model for L'Enfant 
plan, 469 

street plan, L'Enfant on, 16, 18 
Strickland, William, 28, 64 
Stuart, David, 15 
Sununu, John, 344 
sustainability, recommendations for, 
507 

Sutter, T. J., 92 

swimming pools: Clinton tenure, 357; 
Ford tenure, 337-338, 352, 356; 
and integrity, 491, 500; Nixon 
tenure, 335, 336, 337; Reagan 
tenure, 341, 344; Roosevelt (FD) 
tenure, 243; today, 369-370 
swing, 371 

symbolism, and significance of White 
House and President's Park, 464- 
466 

Symons, Thomas W., 1 75, 188 



T 

tables: game, 386, 389; picnic, 
373, 377, 379 

Taft, Helen Herron, 177, 189, 

190, 212 

Taft, William Howard, 189, 190, 
206 

Tanner, Henry S., map of District 
of Columbia, 53 
tapis vert, 24 
Tayloe House, 308 
Taylor, Zachary, 57, 62 
tempering pit, on south lawn, 30 
Temple of Ancient Virtue, 270 
tennis courts: 1969-1994, 335, 
336-337, 352; Roosevelt (T) 
tenure, 177, 187, 212, 218, 

221 ; Taft tenure, 1 89-1 90, 
212; today, 372, 373; Wilson 
tenure, 193, 208 
terraces: construction of, 14, 31; 
Coolidge tenure, 196, 199, 

200; east, 14, 26, 31, 157, 

196; Ellicott plan and, 20; on 
Ellipse, 61-62; Ford tenure, 
338; Jefferson tenure, 1, 22- 
23, 45; Johnson (A) tenure, 
124; Nixon tenure, 337; 
Roosevelt (FD) tenure, 243, 
249, 271 ; Roosevelt (T) tenure, 
175, 185, 187, 188, 189; 
today, 369, 374, 375, 376, 
377, 378, 396, 398; Treasury 
Building, 154; west, 14, 31, 
124, 199, 243 
Tex, pony, 303 
Thackara, James, 35, 36 
Thatcher, Maurice, 242 
Thirteenth Street, proposed 
square at, 298 
Thornton, William, 21 
Tiber Canal, 30, 84, 122 
Tiber Creek, 3, 15, 16, 29, 61; 
drainage along, 62; L'Enfant 
and, 17, 19 

time capsule, 345, 370-371 
Tompkins (Charles H.) Co., 241 
Toner, Joseph M., 33 
Tonnetti, Michael, 205 


tool shed: Adams (JQ) tenure, 49, 53; 

Grant tenure, 141 
topiaries, 200 
Totten, George O., Jr., 1 78 
tower, on Ellipse, proposed, 150 
trash receptacles: Bush (GHW) tenure, 
350; Reagan tenure, 343; today, 

365, 373, 377, 379, 382, 386, 389, 
395, 397 

Treasury Annex, 175, 184, 203, 212, 
308 

Treasury Building, 21, 37; 1851-1865, 
78, 90-91, 92, 93, 105; 1865-1901, 
121, 123, 158; architectural 
integrity of, 490; extension of, 51 ; 
fire and, 43, 63-64; Mills design for, 
43^14; plan of, 233; reconstruction 
of, 43, 63 , 64, 66, 67, 74, 75; 
relationship to landscape, 1, 2; 
relationship with other units, 2; 
Roosevelt (FD) tenure, 267; 

Schreiner sketch of, 155, 169; 
significance of, 463 
Treasury Building grounds: 1791- 
1814, 30-31; 1815-1850, 63-64; 
1851-1865, 103-104; 1865-1901, 
154-155, 157; 1901-1929, 176, 
210, 233; 1929-1948, 271-272, 
273; 1948-1969, 314; 1969-994, 
351; today, 374-377, 405, 407, 428 
Treasury Department: greenhouse, 

153, 157; photographic building, 
149, 152, 153, 157, 167 
Treasury vault, 31, 49, 53 
Treaty of Oyster Bay, 186 
tree grates, today, 377 
tree house, 335, 338 
trellises: Hoover tenure, 242; Jackson 
tenure, 52; Pierce tenure, 90, 110; 
Polk tenure, 56, 70 
Trollope, Anthony, 9 7 
troughs: milk, 50, 371; water, 194 
Trowbridge, Alexander B., 206 
Tinman, Harry S., 194, 261, 262, 

264, 297, 301, 315, 364 
Truman balcony, 264 
Truman-era renovations to White 
House: Hoban and, 45 ; and 
landscaping, 297, 299-301, 315, 
317-325, 318-323 
Tuileries Gardens, 1 80 



tunnels: K-Street, proposed, 307; 

PBA report on, 262 
Turin, as model for L'Enfant plan, 
16, 469 

Twilight Tattoo, 336, 353 
Tyler, John, 44, 55 

u 

Union Station, 1 75 
United States Army: First 

Division Monument, 176, 208, 
209, 213, 272, 295, 298, 312, 
315, 391, 397-399, 460; 
Second Division Memorial, 

240, 268, 273, 298, 312, 315, 
391, 392, 451 

United States Army Corps of 
Engineers: 1865-1901, 121- 
173; 1901-1929, 175 
United States Coast and Geodetic 
Survey, 244; facsimile copy of 
L'Enfant plan, 1 8, 34 
United States Departments. See 
Agriculture, Commerce, 
Interior, Justice, Labor, Navy, 
State, Treasury, or War 
Department 
LInited States Housing 
Corporation, Landscape 
Architecture Division, 245 
Upper Brandon plantation, 179 
urban parks, movement for, 473, 
491 

urns: Johnson (LB) tenure, 310; 
McKinley tenure, 146; 
Roosevelt (FD) tenure, 240, 
265, 273; Taft tenure, 211- 
212, 237; today, 378, 387, 
389, 433, 444 
uses of White House and 
President's Park: 
documentation of, 506-507. 
See also public use 

V 

Vaile, E., 58, 59, 73 
Vallance, John, 35, 36 
Van Buren, Martin, 43, 44, 54, 
55, 66 


Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic 
Site, 257 

vases: Cleveland tenure, 144, 145; 

Grant tenure, 141 
Vassar, Matthew, 77 
Vaux, Calvert, 79, 94-95, 100, 144, 
472-473 

Vaux-le-Vicomte, 1 80, 1 82 
vendors, on Ellipse, 390, 449 
Venice: as model for L'Enfant plan, 

469; as model for McMillan plan, 
180 

Versailles: as model for L'Enfant plan, 
15, 469-170, 471, 476; as model 
for McMillan plan, 1 80 
Victory statue, 205, 398 
Vienna, as model for McMillan plan, 
180 

Vietnam War, 311 

Vint, Thomas C., 240, 251, 252, 254, 
273 

Virginia, and capital site selection, 14 
visitor entrance building: and 

integrity, 500; Reagan tenure, 341, 
352; today, 381, 436 
visitor kiosks: Johnson (LB) tenure, 
311; NPS, 349, 388, 497 
visitor pavilion, Ellipse: Clinton tenure, 
336, 351, 360; today, 394, 458 
vistas: from East Executive Park, 382; 
Ellicott plan and, 20; from Ellipse, 
395; from First Division 
Monument, 399; Kennedy tenure, 
303; from Lafayette Park, 389; 
LEnfant plan and, 20, 31; Lincoln 
tenure, 94; from lower south lawn, 
374; Michler on, 125; from north 
lawn, 366, 416; from Old Executive 
Office Building, 379; Olmsted report 
on, 197-198, 475; PBA report on, 
261; of President's House, 21, 37; 
Roosevelt (FD) tenure, 248, 259, 

271 ; from Sherman Plaza, 397; 
from Treasury Building, 377; 
Truman tenure, 264, 288, 297, 301, 
315, 325; from upper south lawn, 
372; from West Executive Avenue, 
384 

visual materials, database of, 
recommendations for, 505 



volleyball courts, 208, 391; 

proposed, Clinton tenure, 345 
von Steuben statue, 1 76, 201, 
204, 213, 387, 442 

w 

Walker, Benjamin, 387 
Walker, L. E., J35 
walks and paths: 1 791-1814, 29, 
39; Adams (JQ) tenure, 50; 
Arthur tenure, 132, 143, 149; 
in Bulfinch plan, 59; Bush 
(GHW) tenure, 350; Cleveland 
tenure, 136, 137, 144, 145, 
146, 150, 151-152, 152; 
Coolidge tenure, 196, 204; 
Dickens on, 55; Downing plan 
and, 85, 95, 98, 108; Fillmore 
tenure, 102; Grant tenure, 121, 
126, 127, 129, 140-141, 141; 
Harrison (B) tenure, 134, 135, 
136; Hayes tenure, 122, 129, 
131, 142; Hobanand, 45; 
Jackson tenure, 44, 51, 53; 
Jefferson tenure, 24; Johnson 
(A) tenure, 123, 140; Johnson 
(LB) tenure, 306, 310, 311, 

312, 314, 331; L'Enfant and, 

17, 18; Lincoln tenure, 93, 94; 
McKinley tenure, 138, 146, 
153-154, 158; Nixon tenure, 
311, 315, 336; Olmsted plan 
and, 259; Pierce tenure, 90, 

111; Polk tenure, 57, 61; 
Reagan tenure, 341, 342, 344, 
347-348, 352, 353; in 
romanticism, 472; Roosevelt 
(FD) tenure, 240, 253, 254, 
265, 273, 291; Roosevelt (T) 
tenure, 186, 188, 189, 200, 
201, 205, 206; Taft tenure, 

201, 202, 206-207; today, 

365, 367, 368, 372, 373, 376, 
379, 382, 383, 385, 388, 390, 
395, 396, 397, 399, 412; Van 
Buren tenure, 54, 55; Wilson 
tenure, 192, 193, 202, 231 
walls: in Baker watercolor, 49, 

68; Cleveland tenure, 137, 145; 
French and, 90; Hyde de 


Neuville watercolor of, 46, 67; 
Jackson tenure, 52; Jefferson 
tenure, 14, 23, 24, 25, 31, 90-91, 
104, 113, 121, 125, 157; Madison 
tenure, 27; Monroe tenure, 45, 46; 
Reagan tenure, 341; today, 363, 

369, 375, 376, 380, 382, 383, 392, 
394, 396, 397, 398 
Walter, Thomas Ustick, 103, 123; 

drawing of President's House, 51 
Walton, William, 308 
War Building: construction of, 43; 
plan for, 156; proposed new version 
of, 65 , 74; reconstruction of, 63, 67 
War Building grounds: 1791-1814, 
30-31; 1815-1850, 64-65, 66; 
1851-1865, 104, 105 , 120 
Wardman, Harry, 203 
Warnecke, John Carl, 309, 316, 342 
Warnecke (John Carl) & Associates, 
298-299, 309-310, 342 
Warnecke plan, 297-333, 310, 333, 
497 

War of 1812, 27-28, 29, 31 
Washington,’ DC. 5ee District of 
Columbia 

Washington, George: bas-relief panel 
of, 206; boyhood home of, 242, 

275; and capital site selection, 14, 

15; Jackson and, 53; and landscape, 
13; and L'Enfant, 15-16, 17, 18; 
and Rochambeau, 387; and sago 
palm, 124; and size of President's 
House, 2 1 ; and